Dulles rail

Rumors and uncertainty fill the void left by teetering Metro project

That argument is the underpinning behind the position of Dranesville Supervisor John Foust, who sees the FTA’s refusal to fund the current project as an opportunity.

“This gives us another chance to do the project right,” said Foust.

His vision for the future of the project echoes the stance of many Vienna and McLean residents and TysonsTunnel.org. They want the FTA to put the project and its allocated funding on hold, allowing planners to submit one that’s competitively bid and more palatable to Tysons Corner residents.

Highly placed sources in the Tysons business community say that this is what the FTA is leaning toward, but time will have to tell. Other sources close to the negotiations with the FTA say that the tunnel remains “a pipe dream.” Such a time out would almost certainly require at least another year of delay, during which construction costs for the project would almost certainly rise.

Immediately after the FTA’s announcement, rumors swirled that Northern Virginia’s congressional delegation would find some other way to appropriate the money. According those who work in Congress, the idea is problematic.

“I don’t know how that would happen. $900 million is a lot for an earmark,” said Austin Durrer, an aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th).

Since this weekend, congressional and Fairfax County leaders have said they are not working on alternative solutions, but on bringing the FTA around.

Waiting in the wings is the specter of private funding, but since it would almost certainly involve ceding control of the Dulles Toll Road to a private backer – the same concept that was unsuccessfully proposed before the toll road was turned over to the airports authority – many area lawmakers are uncomfortable with the idea.

“It would be very problematic to go forward with just private funding,” said county board chairman Gerry Connolly (D-At large).

I would hope it would be a deal killer.

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