County Approves Bond Sale to Pay for Metro Garages

Rendering of garage at Innovation Center/Credit: Fairfax CountyFairfax County may sell more than $100 million in revenue bonds to pay for garages along Phase II of Metrorail’s Silver Line.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the $115 million bond sale.

The garages are planned for the Herndon and Innovation Center stations. The county would own the garages. The bonds would be repaid using parking fees from the two garages, not tax dollars, the supervisors said.

The move had been planned, but County Supervisor Sharon Bulova previously said the bond sale would not happen until Fairfax closes on its portion ($403 million) of the $1.9 million in federal transportation loans for the project, which it did earlier this year.

From the county:

In 2011, the county agreed to use its best efforts to seek funding for parking garages at the Herndon and Innovation Center Metrorail stations, which are part of rail line’s second leg. While the county plans to build these two garages, Fairfax will not sell revenue bonds until after it closes on its $403 million TIFIA loan with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The federal government approved the TIFIA loan earlier this year.

“I am pleased that Fairfax County will own and operate these garages and collect revenue from parking,” said Chairman Bulova. “This financing structure reduces the overall cost of Phase II of the Silver Line by using parking fees, instead of general fund tax dollars.”

The total estimated cost for constructing Herndon is $58 million, and the estimated cost for Innovation Center comes to $57 million.

Under the approved plan of finance, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority would issue revenue bonds. The proceeds of these bonds will then be loaned to the County, which will repay the revenue bonds from parking fees that are expected to generate about $10 million a year.

Under an agreement with Metro, Fairfax will set and keep the fees charged at the three county-owned Silver Line garages: Wiehle-Reston East, Herdon and Innovation. Those parking fees will also be used to operate and maintain the county-owned garages.

In addition, under a program established in the late 80s as a way to help finance Metro parking garages, Metro will transfer to the county a portion of the parking revenue Metro collects at its five garages in Fairfax, plus the East Falls Church and Van Dorn station garages.

Wiehle-Reston East is the only one of the Silver Line’s Phase I station that has a parking garage. That garage, which has 2,300 county-owned spaces and and additional 1,000 owned by Comstock, was built as a public-private partnership with Comstock. Parking costs $4.85 a day.

The Innovation Center garage will have 2,100 spaces and a secure bike room, similar to the one at Wiehle-Reston East. Herndon currently has 1,950 spaces at its kiss-and-ride lot. When finished, there will be a total of 3,500 parking spots at Herndon Station.

Phase II is in early construction stages and it expected to open in 2018.

Photo: Rendering of Innovation Center garage/Credit: Fairfax County

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