Fairfax County Agrees to $403M Silver Line Loan

First Silver Line train pulls in to Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike Heffner, Vita ImagesFairfax County on Tuesday agreed to the terms for a $403 million federal loan that will help build the Silver Line’s second phase, from Reston to Ashburn.

County officials said the low-interest loan will keep Phase 2 on track for completion in 2018 and will also help keep Dulles Toll Road rates from rising to help cover costs.

The vote was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors.

The county will sign the official loan documents on Dec. 16. The money is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), which has also provided the project as a whole with about $1.9 billion in funding.

The loan will cover about 45 percent of the county’s total estimated $915 million share for building Phase 2. The county may defer payments for five years after the project is finished, so the county anticipates payments beginning in 2023.

“With Phase 1 on track to meet or even exceed ridership projections, I am very pleased to have approved low-interest federal financing for Phase 2,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Sharon Bulova. “The funds made available through the TIFIA loan keep the project on target for completion in 2018 and reduce costs for toll road users and taxpayers. The Silver Line is vital to the economic growth of Fairfax County, the region and the Commonwealth, and I am proud of the work we’ve done to make it a reality.”

Phase 1 of the Silver Line opened in July. It has five stops from Tysons Corner to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue and has already exceeded first-year ridership estimates. Phase 2 will run from Reston Parkway to Herndon, Route 28, Dulles International Airport and Ashburn.

Bulova said Fairfax plans to use two county sources to repay the loan — money from the Dulles Rail Phase 2 Transportation Improvement District and Commercial and Industrial Tax Fund. The county will apply $218.2 million from this voluntary tax district and $185.1 million in commercial and industrial taxes.

Last month, Fairfax County approved a bond sale to fund parking garages at Herndon and Innovation Center stations to be built as part of Phase 2.

Fairfax is by far paying the biggest share of Phase 2 expenses among local partners. The total cost is expected to be $5.6 billion (about half of that already already going to Phase 1).

The breakdown: 16.1 percent by Fairfax County; 4.8 percent by Loudoun County; 4.1 percent by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority; and 75 percent (less any federal and state funding) by Dulles Toll Road revenues.

Additionally, $730 million — about 80 percent — of the county’s $915 million responsibility will be paid for by two voluntary, special tax districts created by landowners. They are the Dulles Rail Phase 1 Transportation Improvement District and Dulles Rail Phase 2 Transportation Improvement District.

Photo: Silver Line train in Reston/Credit: file photo by Jennifer Heffner

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