A push by some landowners to move the planned location of the Rt. 606 Dulles Metrorail station farther to the west to provide better development opportunities for their properties was not enough to convince a majority of the Board of Supervisors that is the best option for the area.
Only three supervisors supported conducting a study, estimated to cost $52,721, to evaluate the cost and possible impacts of shifting the station to the west. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority had told the Loudoun leaders that any costs associated with moving the station would have to be incurred by the county, as MWAA has only budgeted to pay for the station in its current location. The planned location would include one station entrance on the north side of the Dulles Greenway and one pedestrian bridge. The site is planned for parking of 2,750 cars, as it is meant to be the commuter station for Loudoun residents and those living farther west.
It was the potential for an increased cost that left several supervisors hesitant to move forward with the study of the western shift, as proposed by Supervisor Stevens Miller (D-Dulles).
"I agree with the Dulles Corridor Rail Association when they said they support a study relocating this station to the west as long as it did not delay the construction of the project or add additional cost," Vice Chairman Susan Klimek Buckley (D-Sugarland Run) said. "I think we've missed that time. We've missed that opportunity. We are looking at a delay. We are looking at an increased cost."
Many of the supervisors who voted against looking at a new location said they believed in maximizing the economic development potential of the area around the rail station, but said they did not believe the station had to be moved to accomplish that.
"I recall that there appears to be adequate access that was doable from the current location to develop the properties to the west," Supervisor Jim Burton (I-Blue Ridge) said. "I think we should continue with the location that [MWAA] chose. They studied the problem of the location and the one they came up with was the one in which they are proceeding."
But Miller said he did not like the contradictory nature of what the board was told by MWAA representatives, noting that the county was asked what it is vision for the area was while at the same time being told that it would have to pay for any vision that changed the location of the station.
"We were asked for our vision and it's our call, apparently as long as our call is their call. I don't like that," Miller said. "I don't like being told something is our call, but if you use that freedom and discretion … watch out, because you're going to regret it."
Chairman Scott K. York (I-At Large), who along with Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio (R-Sterling) voted for Miller's motion, said while there would be a cost to shifting the station, it would not be the $10 to $20 million figure that some people had been bantering about.
The board first decided to look at the Rt. 606 station's location at the urging of H. Chris Antigone, managing member of Dulles Gateway Associates, LLC, which is the property owner directly adjacent to the proposed station site. In a letter sent to the board early last year, Antigone pointed to a 2005 study done for the property that said "to take full advantage of the future rail station at Rt. 606, it needed to be positioned somewhat more northwest to be closer to private land where private development could occur."
Without enough votes on the board to look into changing the station location, plans for designing and constructing the station at the location chosen by MWAA will continue as planned.