Dulles Metrorail - Dulles Metrorail History

Dulles Metrorail History

A rail line in the Dulles Corridor has had a long history dating back to the 1950s, during the planning stages for Washington Dulles International Airport. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) controls the right-of-way for the Dulles Connector Road and the Dulles International Airport Access Highway (DIAAH). The median for the highways has been reserved for future rail transit use since the 1960s.

Since the 1950s, many studies have been prepared to evaluate the transportation needs and potential improvements within the Dulles Corridor. The following list includes the major studies conducted:

  • Consideration as part of the Metrorail System. Serving Dulles Airport with rail was considered in the 1960s during the initial planning and construction of the Metrorail system.
  • Northern Virginia Light Rail, Inc. In 1983, Northern Virginia Light Rail, Inc. proposed to collect contributions from local developers to build a light rail line to Dulles Airport.
  • Airport Master Plan. In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updated the Master Plan for Dulles Airport, which recommended the continued reservation of the DIAAH median for the future expansion of Metrorail or another transit system.
  • Urban Mass Transit Administration Privatization Study. The Urban Mass Transit Administration (now the Federal Transit Administration) sponsored the Dulles Corridor Transit Development Feasibility Study, which was completed in 1985.
  • DartRAIL. From 1985 until 1992, Dulles Access Rapid Transit (DartRAIL) sponsored a proposal to build a rail transit line between the West Falls Church Metrorail Station and Dulles Airport. This study proposed to raise capital funds through assessments and donations from interested parties, property owners, developers and the operators of Dulles Airport, in addition to using surplus revenue generated by the Dulles Toll Road.
  • Alternatives Analysis. In 1990 Fairfax County sponsored the Dulles International Airport Access Highway Corridor Transit Alternatives Analysis Study to consider alternatives that included expanded express bus service on the DIAAH, construction of an exclusive high occupancy vehicle (HOV) facility in the median of the DIAAH, use of light rail or automated guideway transit facilities, and the extension of Metrorail.
  • Dulles Corridor Plan. A resolution by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in 1990 led to the adoption of the Dulles Corridor Plan for transportation improvements in the corridor. The plan endorsed implementation of rail in the Dulles Corridor by 2005. Among the actions identified in the Plan were:
    • Implementation of a high level of bus service to develop transit ridership patterns for future rail service, as well as start-up of a number of intra-county feeder bus services;
    • Construction of park-and-ride lots, Dulles Toll Road interchanges, direct HOV-ramp access for those lots and other efforts to preserve future rail station sites;
    • Further analysis of the long-term need to make major improvements to interchanges in the corridor;
    • Preparation of a detailed financial plan to determine funding needs and funding sources for a rail project; and the use of federally authorized funds to begin development of a rail project (including alternatives analysis and environmental studies).
  • Dulles Corridor Transportation Study Major Investment Study. The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) initiated a Major Investment Study (MIS), the Dulles Corridor Transportation Study, in response to the adopted Dulles Corridor Plan. Following completion of this study in 1997, a supplement to the MIS was prepared in 1999 to address the possibility of using Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the corridor.
  • Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit Project/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. Today's project that concluded the environmental review process in March 2005 and is now in Preliminary Engineering with construction to begin in 2006.

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