While many have commented on the rail extension easing trips to the airport, the persons on those trips will constitute only ten to fifteen percent of persons using the line. Most of the riders will be commuters going to and from work from Loudoun County through the District of Columbia to Largo, Maryland or vice versa and any of the stops in between while remaining in the same seat.
The Silver Line will tie Northern Virginia into the Metropolitan region as nothing has before. Certainly there will be workers in Loudoun and Fairfax who will take the train downtown to the District of Columbia saving them time and gas and parking money. At the same time there will be workers in Arlington who will commute to western Fairfax on the Silver Line, and there will be airport workers up and down the line who will get to work by train. You can substitute tourist for worker in any of these scenarios for those visiting the region will realize the value of this new artery in the area.
I have been involved in Dulles Metro Rail issues since the late 1980s for I was convinced that heavy rail was the best option to serve our region. Washington, D.C. up until this time was the only major capital city in the world that did not have a rail connection to its major airport. Beyond the airport traffic demands was the commuter traffic that jammed our roads even as we added and then expanded toll lanes to the Dulles Access Road. While the extension is now complete, it is over-budget and past deadline, it is miraculous to those of us working on it daily over the decades that it has now been finished.
There was a debate that went on for years as to whether heavy rail was the best option over bus rapid transit or light rail. Each year we will learn that heavy rail was the best option to carry the increasing ridership that will develop. There was a strong debate over whether the line should be built over or under Tysons Corner. Costs made that decision for us as the above ground option was less expensive except for the short tunnel that goes under the hill at Tysons Corner. Many of us wanted the station at Dulles Airport to be under the terminal, but again the issue of cost won out.
In 1998 I founded the Dulles Corridor Rail Association (DCRA) to advocate for the rail extension along with many business and community leaders. We breathed life back into the project the many times it seemed doomed. I know the people who worked with me on DCRA share the pride I feel In this important infrastructure addition that will enhance the quality of life in our communities.