One thousand one hundred feet. Does that sound like too long of a walk? What if you had bags and were headed to an airport?
That was the decision in front of the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority Dulles Corridor Committee this morning, and it seems the answer was, “yes, it is too far to walk.” The committee, as reported by WTOP’s Adam Tuss, voted to support a below ground station that would bring the Metrorail extension to Dulles about 500 feet from the terminal.
The problem is that this is going to come at an additional cost of about $300 million. That’s roughly half a million dollars per foot that we move closer to the terminal.
I’m a little bit dismayed at this decision. The full board voted to support the committee vote, as expected. Perhaps the board should have considered more that while WMAA is raising the funds for this, everyone had better consider the shape of the Metro as a whole, though, before deciding this.
Yes, the billions being spent on this extension to Tyson’s and Dulles have no direct impact to the Metro budget. But if Virginia is willing to cough up some part of $300 million to move a station 600 feet, I’m sure I’d like to hear why we’re discussing reducing service to close the budget gap, instead of, say, contributing more?
If the state isn’t willing to cough up much of the cash (I’m thinking that’s a good bet), how can you justify charging an extra $0.50 per car on the toll road to pay for 600 feet?
And even if the board manages to find $300 million in savings in other parts of the project, doesn’t that lead to the question of “why are there $300 million to find, and if there aren’t, what other essential systems are we going to short change by ‘value engineering’ this?”
To add insult to injury, these three tweets (1, 2, 3) show the argument that the National Airport station being 1000 feet from the terminal hurt the airport with low usage. When terminals B and C were built, steps from the station, usage spiked. Because, you know, usage didn’t spike from having two new modern large terminals there? It was just that it was a few hundred feet closer? Really?
If MWAA thinks $300 million to move a station 600 feet closer to the terminal is a good idea, perhaps they should show how that will result in $300 million in revenue. Or how building moving walkways to ferry people to the terminal wouldn’t be cheaper.
Or, you know, maybe reuse those people movers in a new role: station to terminal transport!