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Dulles Toll Road Hikes to Start in January

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors voted Wednesday (Nov. 14) to increase rates on the Dulles Toll Road for the first time since 2014.

The hike will raise the toll from $2.50 to $3.25 at the main toll plaza and from $1 to $1.50 on ramps, starting in January. The rate increases are necessary to fund the Silver Line extension project and improvements on the Dulles Toll Road, according to the MWAA.

The decision came “after careful consideration of public input received at the three toll rate public hearings held this summer, the public comments received on-line and the recommendation of the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee,” said Warner Session, chairman of the Airports Authority Board.

In 2014, an agreement froze increases before tolls rose again to continue funding Silver Line construction. “Under the contract governing construction of the Silver Line, the Airports Authority is required to use revenues from the toll road to help fund the [Silver Line] project,” according to a Nov. 14 MWAA press release, adding that other funding includes Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Airports Authority and the federal government.

Last month, a federal appeals court in Richmond affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the tolls helping to fund the Silver Line construction.

MWAA held a public hearing in Reston back in July to hear feedback on the proposed rate increases. The Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee reviewed and recommended the rates adopted by MWAA’s Board, according to the press release.

The next expected toll rate increase is planned for 2023.

Photo via MWAA 

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Feedback Sought on Proposed Toll Increases at Dulles Toll Road in 2019

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will hold a public hearing in Reston on July 17 to hear feedback on proposed rate increases along the Dulles Toll Road.

Under the proposal, commuters would pay fifty cents more at ramp plazas and seventy-five cents more at the mainline plaza beginning in 2019. According to the MWAA, rate increases are necessary to fund the Silver Line extension project and improvements on the Dulles Toll Road.

The public hearing is scheduled for July 17 from 5-8 p.m. at South Lakes High School (11400 South Lakes Drive). Two other hearings will be held at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean and Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn.

Attendees are encouraged to comment on how the planned toll increase of $1.25 for a typical Dulles Toll Road trip should be allocated between ramp and mainline plazas. The MWAA is also seeking comments on whether toll plaza lanes that allow customers to pay with cash should be converted to “E-ZPass only” tolling.

Comments on other operational improvements, including whether or not credit cards should be accepted at toll plaza lanes, are also encouraged.

MWAA representatives will be on site to discuss the proposal. Translators will also be available at each public hearing. The public engagement period will run from July 2 through August 3. Comments can be submitted to [email protected].

The MWAA’s board is expected to vote on planned toll increase later this year.

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Overnight Closures on Sunset Hills Road Expected Sunday through Thursday

Prepare for overnight closures on of Sunset Hills Road from Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

The eastbound lanes of Sunset Hills Road near the intersection of Town Center Parkway will be closed. The westbound lane of the road will be reduce to one right thru lane as two-way traffic runs through the area.

The lane closure is necessary as construction crews working on the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project deliver large, heavy equipment to a nearby power substation that will power the future Reston Town Center station on the Silver Line. A crane will place the items on the south side walk.

Police will remain on site and plan to direct eastbound traffic onto the right westbound lane.

Here’s more from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority:

Beginning at 10 p.m. each night, eastbound Sunset Hills Road traffic will be diverted to westbound Sunset Hills Road at the intersection of Town Center Parkway.

Westbound Sunset Hills Road will be separated by traffic control devices (i.e. cones or drums) to safely facilitate two-way flow of traffic.

Eastbound Sunset Hills Road will be closed east of the detour.

A crane will be positioned on the south sidewalk and the sidewalk will be closed in this location.

The detour will end just west of Reston Parkway.

No later than 5 a.m. each morning, Sunset Hills Road will be returned to normal traffic flow; however, the crane will remain in place and the sidewalk will remain closed until work is completed.

All plans are subject to change due to weather.

Photo via MWAA

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Dulles Toll Road Fee Projected to Increase to $4.75 in 2019, $6 in 2023

Users of the Dulles Toll Road can expect to pay more in 2019, according to a 2018 draft budget presented to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board today.

No increase from the $3.50 toll ($2.50 at the plaza and $1 at the ramp) is planned in 2018; however, it is expected to jump to $4.75 the following year. Numbers presented by the Board’s Finance Committee show that is only the beginning of the hikes.

In 2023, the toll is projected to go up to $6. Additional jumps of $1.25 or more are projected every five years for the following two decades, resulting in an $11.25 toll in 2043.

The toll last increased in 2014, when it went up from $2.75 to the current rate. It steadily increased each year from 2010 to 2014. Prior to that, the toll was $1.25 (75 cents at the plaza and 50 cents at the ramp).

Tolls are used in part by MWAA to help fund the expansion of Metro’s Silver Line. Nearly half the cost of the construction, about $2.8 billion, is being paid by Toll Road fees.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Opioid Roundtable Planned — The discussion, scheduled for the Fairfax County Government Center at 2 p.m. Saturday, will be hosted by Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) and Sharon Bulova, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. The event is open to the public. [Fairfax County Fire and Rescue]

Reston Woman Pleads Guilty to Role in Gang-Related Killing — Cindy Blanco Hernandez, 19, entered pleas to abduction and gang participation Tuesday as part of a deal with prosecutors. She was among 10 members and associates of the gang MS-13 charged after the January killing of 15-year-old Damaris A. Reyes Rivas. She may face up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced in May. [Washington Post]

Herndon Adds Parking Enforcement Position — The part-time officer was hired Oct. 3 and will work 30 hours a week, which has at least one resident worried about “end[ing] up like Reston Town Center.” [Connection Newspapers]

Silver Line Phase 2 Hits Two-Thirds Point — More than 5 million hours have been spent on the $2.78 billion project so far, according to updates expected to be presented today to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board. [WTOP]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Lake Anne Brew House to Attend Festival This Weekend — The local nanobrewery is already gaining attention ahead of the Virginia Craft Brewers Festival this weekend in Charlottesville, with an event manager describing why its award-winning New Year’s Golden Ale is a top pick for him. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Farmers Market Success Celebrated — During a National Farmers Market Week commemoration this past Saturday at the Reston Farmers Market, its many successes were praised. [Connection Newspapers]

Pedestrian Bridges at Herndon Station Going in Next Week — The Herndon-Monroe Park & Ride will be closed overnight twice next week as the work is done. [Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project]

Residents Can Give Input in County Executive Search — Fairfax County Executive Edward Long will retire next month. The county is asking citizens to give their input to assist in the recruiting process for his replacement. [Survey Monkey]

Did You Get a Jury Questionnaire? — The county is sending out 50,000 jury questionnaires, and it wants to make sure recipients know it is just the beginning of the jury duty screening process. [Fairfax County]

Be Wary of Charlottesville Charity Scams — Attorney General Mark Herring says anyone interested in assisting victims of last weekend’s violence should vet the organization, campaign or page organizer before they donate. He says people who need help figuring out whether a charity is legitimate can contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Section. [WTOP]

File image courtesy Jennifer Heffner Photography

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Silver Line Phase 2 Construction Over 60 Percent Complete

According to a quarterly update provided Wednesday to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, construction of the Phase 2 of the Silver Line extension to Loudoun County has passed 60 percent completion.

Capital Rail Constructors reports that after nearly 4.4 million manhours of work, 61.12 percent of construction is done. They say the design process is 99.97 percent done.

The facility construction of the Reston Town Center station has continued with steel erection that started in May and will continue through August. Mechanical work projected to happen until fall 2018.

The Herndon Station will wrap up its metal decking by the end of August and start work on the roofing and skylights. The facility work of the station is estimated to be completed by this fall.

The MWAA is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile project, which began in July 2013 and consists of six stations from the Reston Town Center station to the Ashburn station.

Despite the station construction steadily moving forward, the Silver Line extension will not be done for another three years. Construction on the cable trough is only 44 percent complete, and there are other track adjustments to make before everything is finalized.

WTOP reported earlier this week that the series of delays that pushed the opening back to 2020 will cost $95 million. The delays are being caused by a series of design changes, including safety-related work.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Silver Line Delays Have Steep Price Tag — A series of delays that has pushed the opening of the Silver Line’s Phase 2 back to 2020 will cost $95 million. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority disclosed that number in a presentation prepared for its Wednesday board meeting. [WTOP]

Design Review Board Meets Tonight — Among the topics to be discussed at tonight’s meeting of Reston’s Design Review Board (7 p.m. at Reston Association headquarters, 12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, as well as live on RA’s YouTube channel) is the redevelopment of Tall Oaks Village Center. [Reston Association]

Zoning Open House Coming Up — Fairfax County will hold an open house Wednesday, July 26 to talk about proposed zoning changes that may affect local communities. Among the topics to be discussed are potential changes to the rules about short-term rentals, such as Airbnb; rear-yard coverage, such as patios; and more. [Fairfax County]

Herndon High Grad to Play at Georgia Tech — After completing his bachelor’s degree in economics in three years while playing basketball at Lehigh University, HHS grad Brandon Alston has transferred to Georgia Tech to play out his final two years of sports eligibility. [Georgia Tech University]

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Aluminum Musicians and Colorful Ribbons: Future Metro Station’s Public Art

Metro’s Art in Transit Program is recommending the vision of a Colorado-based artist to become the motif of the future Reston Town Center Metro station.

Last week, the program unveiled the proposal of Joshua Wiener as its pick for the public art installation at the station’s walkways over the Dulles Toll Road. Wiener’s designs, which are shown on his personal website, consist of powder-coated aluminum sculptures of a bassist, a horn player and a drummer, as well as flowing red and teal ribbon designs down the corridors.

Wiener’s proposal was chosen over two other finalists. The program received 45 total submissions for the project. The Art Review Panel included the Fairfax County Department of Transportation, the Arts Council of Fairfax County, Public Art Reston and other Virginia-based visual art professionals.

According to the Art in Transit Program, the public art initiative benefits Metro as a whole by:

  • Creating attractive transit facilities
  • Building livable communities by creating public spaces that reflect the artistic, cultural and historic environment
  • Creating economic opportunities for artists, engineers, fabricators and other professionals

WMATA’s Customer Service Operations and Security Committee approved the proposal at its Thursday meeting. The full WMATA board will vote on it this summer. Upon board approval, WMATA will enter into contract with Wiener to develop, fabricate and install the artwork.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is overseeing construction of Phase II of the Silver Line, is funding the public art effort. The project’s funding is capped at $250,000.

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Tuesday Morning Notes

Some Work on Phase 1 of Silver Line Project Ongoing — The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority says some work connected to the first phase of the Silver Line still needs to be completed. All significant work is done, according to MWAA, but continuing projects include realignment of Old Meadow Road in McLean. [WTOP]

SLHS Softballer Heading to Europe — Alyssa Smith, a freshman at South Lakes High School, is raising money to travel to Europe to play softball for the Student-Athlete USA Team. Alyssa is the center fielder for HRYS Glory 16U and has hopes of playing Division I college softball after she graduates. [GoFundMe]

Bluegrass Series Wrapping Up at Frying Pan Park — The Bluegrass Barn series at Frying Pan Farm Park (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon) will come to an end April 9 with a performance by The Boxcars. Tickets are now on sale. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Gillespie Wins County GOP Straw Poll — A Fairfax County Republican Party straw poll over the weekend has Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, firmly in the lead in the GOP race for Governor of Virginia. Gillespie is facing Corey Stewart and Frank Wagner in the primary, which takes place June 13. [WTOP]

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Metrorail Silver Line Phase 2 More Than Halfway to Completion

Silver Line construction/Photo by Jennifer Thomas Alcott, Capital Rail Constructors

Phase 2 of construction on Metro’s Silver Line is more than 56 percent complete, according to information released today by the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile Phase 2 extension of the Silver Line from Reston through Dulles Airport to Ashburn. Engineering and design work on the phase began in July 2013, and the project is expected to be complete by 2020. All told, the stretch will include six rail stations; nine entrance pavilions and pedestrian bridges; aerial guideways through Dulles Airport; and 89,000 feet of track.

Silver Line construction/Capital Rail Constructors“Bad weather never really stopped us,” project vice president Charles Stark is quoted as saying regarding construction efforts in recent months.

Station wall work is currently underway at the future Reston Town Center station, while structural steel installation for the vault roof has begun at the future Herndon station, also located in Reston. In addition, piers for pedestrian bridges are being put up. All needed pier caps have been poured, along with 76 percent of deck spans. Construction on the rail yard at Dulles Airport is 46 percent complete, according to project officials.

Work also began in December on a new Herndon Metro parking garage, a county project.

Phase 2 of the Silver Line was originally projected to be completed by late 2018; however, design modifications later pushed that date back.

Photos courtesy Capital Rail Constructors/Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

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Silver Line Phase 2 Opening Delayed 13 Months

First Silver Line train pulls in to Wiehle-Reston East/Credit: Mike Heffner, Vita Images The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said on Monday that design modifications for safety and reliability of Metro’s Silver Line will delay the opening of Phase 2 for about 13 months.

Phase 2, which will run from Wiehle-Reston East to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, was most recently projected to open in late 2018. This means it might not open until late 2019.

MWAA constructed Phase 1 of the Silver Line, which opened in July 2014 (about six months behind schedule). Phase 1 has five stops from Tysons Corner to Reston. It is also building Phase 2, which is projected to cost $2.7 billion and will expand the line from Wiehle-Reston East to Reston Town Center, Herndon, Route 28, Dulles International Airport and Ashburn.

More than 150 modifications have been made and integrated into the design for Phase 2, says MWAA. Many of these modifications parallel design changes made in the latter stages of Phase 1 and will enhance the safety and reliability of Phase 2.  The modifications, when combined with associated weather and construction delays, have extended the Phase 2 construction schedule by about 13 months, MWAA officials said.

“Over 100 design changes were made in Phase 1 — a large number of them ordered in the final months of the construction process — requiring additional design, engineering, construction, management and oversight work,” Charles Stark, the Airports Authority’s executive director of the Silver Line project, said in a statement.

“For consistency, many of these same safety and reliability modifications needed to be incorporated into Phase 2 of the project, which then impacted the schedule.”

MWAA announced late last year that the entire 11-mile Phase 2 would need changes to comply with new stormwater regulations.

Meanwhile, MWAA said remaining work done to finalize Phase 1 of the project will add $76 million, or about 2.6 percent, to the previously announced Phase 1 cost of $2.8 billion.

The new Phase 1 cost of $2.982 billion remains within the original federally approved Phase 1 budget and toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road will not be affected, MWAA said. Toll rates will remain at current levels through 2018.

From MWAA:

A recently concluded global settlement with the construction contractor for Phase 1, Dulles Transit Partners, along with the resolution of other outstanding matters – including the close-out of Virginia permits which allowed Phase 1 work within Routes 7 and 123 in Tysons Corner, and the execution of contracts to supplement certain Phase 1 work, as required by WMATA – has allowed the Airports Authority to project a final Phase 1 close-out cost of $2.982 billion, which represents an additional cost of about $76 million, and to move to the final close-out of the Phase 1 project.

The majority of the remaining work on Phase 1, which opened for business in July 2014, will be completed by the end of this year, including the delivery of 64 new rail cars at a cost of $189.4 million to expand the Metrorail fleet.  Final close-out of Phase 1 is expected to occur in 2016.

“The Phase 1 global settlement is an important milestone in the Silver Line project, following its successful launch in July 2014,” Airports Authority CEO Jack Potter said.  “It gives us closure on the most substantial cost component of Phase 1, ensures we will achieve the project’s federal budget targets and allows us to maintain the existing toll schedule for the Dulles Toll Road.”

The ultimate impact of the Phase 1 additional costs may be reduced or even eliminated if the contingency budget for Phase 2 of the Silver Line project is not fully used and the total project, both Phases 1 and 2, comes in at or under the overall project budget.

The Airports Authority also announced an update to the construction schedule for Phase 2 of the Silver Line project, which will extend service from the terminus of Phase 1 in Reston, Virginia, through Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, Virginia.

Potter said, “The added costs arising from Phase 2 design modifications will remain within the Phase 2 contingency budget of $550 million and will have no effect on the toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road. With our project partners, we are committed to limiting future design changes. Phase 1 is already experiencing ridership beyond expectations, and significant construction and development is underway along its path in the Dulles Corridor. We are confident that Phase 2 will experience similar success.”

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Former Supervisor Hanley Appointed to MWAA Board

Katherine Hanley/Credit: Fairfax FederationFormer Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Katherine Hanley has been appointed to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Board.

Hanley, a Reston resident, was one of three new MWAA board appointees announced by Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Friday. Other new appointees include former Virginia House of Delegates member Charles Caputo of Herndon and Bruce Gates, an Alexandria resident who is Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Altria Client Services, Inc.

Hanley was the Providence District Supervisor from 1986 to 1995 and Board of Supervisors Chair from 1995 to 2003.  She also served as the Secretary of the Commonwealth under then-Gov. Tim Kaine from 2006 to 2010 and has served on the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

MWAA is governed by the 13-member board with five members appointed by the governor of Virginia, three by the the mayor of DC, two by the governor of Maryland and three by the president. It oversees Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport, as well as the Dulles Toll Road and the construction of Metro’s Silver Line Phase II.

“I cannot think of a more qualified candidate to serve on the MWAA Board than Kate Hanley, who was my mentor and predecessor as Providence District Supervisor and Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va 11) said in a statement.

“Kate Hanley has been involved in nearly every major regional transportation decision for the past three decades. As a resident of the Dulles corridor, she is intimately familiar with the relationship between the Airports Authority, the local community, toll road commuters, Silver Line riders, and the regional economy.”

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Silver Line: Final Touches, No Glitches as Opening Approaches

All systems are go for Saturday’s opening of Phase 1 of the Silver Line, Metro officials said in Monday’s weekly press conference call.

There are still a few punch list items remaining — among them, application of heat tape on rails as a cold-weather precaution and Certificates of Occupancy for three stations.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said the heat tape, along with outstanding drainage issues, is the responsibility of contractors for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which constructed Phase 1. Those items can be done after service begins, he said. He also said he expects the Certificates of Occupancy for the McLean, Tysons Corner and Spring Hill stations to arrive this week.

“From a systems perspective, everything is running as designed and we see no issues,” Stessel said. “The last step is a couple of regulatory documents. I see no reason they will not be in hand in short order.”

Construction of the Silver Line suffered many delays as it neared the end of the five-year building period. As recently as June 9, Metro was expressing frustration at the slow pace of the work. Prior to that, MWAA and Metro reached an agreement in April that allowed MWAA to complete remaining items after the project was handed over to Metro — and avoid paying potential fines for every day the project was delayed.

Now it is just a matter of employees and trains getting used to adding thousands of riders to the rail system every day.

The Silver Line began simulated service on Sunday, with trains running every 12 minutes and without any issues, said Stessel. The trains are running on schedule but without passengers. Passenger service begins at noon on Saturday.

On Monday morning, trains ran every six minutes on a regular weekday rush hour schedule, also with no problems.

“This week is about familiarizing employyes with operation of trains on the new segment,” said Stessel. “Station managers were at their posts this morning. They opened the stations, even though they are not open for passengers. Crews will also be out prepping stations for opening day —  powerwashing, painting and putting finishing touches on facilities.”

Some Blue Line riders are affected by additional wait times due to the addition of Silver Line cars, but Stessel said increased wait times affect only 10 percent of Metro riders.

“Silver Line changes mean more service and a lesser wait for 37 percent of Metro riders,” he said. “Thirty-three percent (mostly riders on the Red Line and Green Line) will see no change.”

Plans for Saturday include a ribbon cutting and remarks from local dignitaries at 10 a.m. Passengers will be able to board the first trains at noon. Comstock will also have a public reception on the Reston Station plaza from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m.

More Silver Line opening news:

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Metro Has Silver Line Opening Day Plans

Commemorative SmarTrip Card/Credit: Metro

Metro officials said on Monday they “remain confident” that all punch list items will be completed before Silver Line service begins on Saturday, July 26.

Lynn Bowersox, Metro assistant general manager for customer service, communications and marketing, says four items were closed out in the last week. However, about 20 punch list items (down from 35) still need to be completed, she said. Many are multistep items, she added.

“We are working closely with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the FTA [Federal Transit Administration] and the Tri-State Oversight Committee to complete the punch list items, obtain the certificates of occupancy and finish safety and security reviews. We remain confident the work will be completed.”

After months of delays, Metro last week finally set an opening date for service on the 11-mile, $2.9 billion Phase 1 of the Silver Line, which will run from East Falls Church to Reston’s Wiehle Avenue.

Bowersox said Metro and public safety officials successfully completed their final safety exercise on Sunday. The first responders practiced an emergency drill on the elevated tracks near the Spring Hill Station.

Metro is now looking ahead to the opening day schedule. Here are some things to know:

There will be a grand opening and ribbon cutting with local officials at the Wiehle Reston East Station at 10 a.m.

If you want to be one of the first riders, you are encouraged to board at McLean, Tysons Corner, Greensboro or Spring Hill. Those stations will open at 11:30 a.m. The first train will leave Wiehle-Reston East at noon. It will arrive at Spring Hill at 12:08 p.m., Greensboro at 12:10 p.m., Tysons Corner at 12:12 p.m. and McLean at 12:14 p.m, then continue on to regular stations along the Silver and Orange lines.

On opening day in Reston, Fairfax Connector buses will take people to the Wiehle-Reston East parking garage and to points on both the North and South sides of the station. The 3,300-space garage will open at 9:30 a.m. on July 26. Parking will be free that day as it will be on all weekends.

There will be a ribbon cutting and transit fair at Wiehle-Reston East on Saturday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visitors can check out the facilities, including the 200-space bike room.

If you want ensure you are one of the first Silver Line riders, subscribe to the Silver Line Bulletin, where you will be entered into a sweepstakes to be among the inaugural riders.

Metro will also be issuing a commemorative SmarTrip. The card will cost $10 and it will be loaded with $8 of fare value, said Bowersox. Cards will be available at all stations and online beginning July 26.

Photo: Silver line Commemorative SmarTrip card/Credit: Metro

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