Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), whose district encompasses much of the route for the new Metrorail extension into Loudoun County, is requesting that the agency overseeing construction of the line bring in an outside auditor to monitor design and construction of the second phase of the project.
The 23-mile extension of the Washington region's subway to Dulles International Airport and beyond is being constructed in two phases: A section from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue, which is scheduled to open in 2013, and a leg from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County. Phase 2 is slated to open in 2016.
In his letter addressed to Charles D. Snelling, chairman of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's board of directors, Wolf said, "I do not want the Dulles rail project to become Virginia's version of the 'Big Dig,'" a Massachusetts highway and tunnel project that eventually grew from an estimated $2.6 billion to cost more than $22 billion, including interest.
The first phase of the so-called Silver Line Metrorail extension is costing $2.75 billion, according to the authority, which is managing construction. Estimates for the second phase have grown to as much as $4 billion, depending on the location of a station at Dulles airport. Phase 2 of the project is scheduled to be put out for bid in 2011.
"This auditing group would serve the same function as an 'inspector general' in a federal agency who conducts independent ... investigations that identify and prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement," Wolf wrote.
The auditing process "would give area residents who have a financial stake in Dulles rail the confidence that MWAA is making wise decisions to protect the the interests of commuters now using the toll road and ensure that they are not forced to bear the burden of undue cost overruns."
The airports authority has pledged toll revenue as a source of financing for the extension.
Wolf said he would ask the Department of Transportation's inspector general "to monitor the project" if the airports authority doesn't appoint an outside auditor.