Silver Line project reaches major milestone

RESTON, Va. (WUSA9) -- Today, the Metropolitan Airports Authority, MWAA, accepted the Silver Line Phase I, project, which runs from Falls Church to Reston, as "substantially complete".

Project Director Pat Nowakowski said, "Today's another step forward on this rail project." He explained that that is a good thing, but it does not mean it is complete.

Two months ago, MWAA rejected the substantially complete submission from the contractors and sent them back with a punch list of work orders, some of them new. Now, all sides agree what needs to be done before phase one can reach Operational Readiness status. Some of the on-going work involves reliability issues and communications systems, says Project Director Pat Nowakowski.

It is expected that the work could be finished by the end of May. At that point, WMATA (Metro) will take it over to conduct tests which may take 90 days, give or take. But the delays have had and are still having a detrimental affect on the Tyson's business community.

The promise of Metro coming spurred a development boom and helped create the plan to transform Tyson's into a city. But, many business decisions are in limbo because nobody knows when the Silver Line will open.

"Delay after delay. I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon," said Nema Sayahdian who owns a condo in Tysons.

He said he was hoping the new rail line would be in 2013, as was earlier expected. Now, it may not happen until September.

The Silver Line's delay has thrown uncertainly into the Tyson's economy, says Michael Caplin, Executive Director of the Tysons Partnership. Hotels cannot count of rail service for summer tourists, office real estate may loose clients looking to be near transit, and commercial retailers can't plan for more customers until the rail opens. Caplin says the delays have put a crimp in the Visit Tysons movement.

"The uncertainty is unnerving to the marketplace. Everyone knows it will arrive, " but, because there's no absolute date on when it will open, "It's like waiting for Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. You get impatient," said Caplin.

Caplin says the Tysons Partnership already postponed it's "Welcome Silver Line" party once. Now, it is scheduled for May 31. Even though the Silver Line will definitely not be running by then, the party is too big to postpone again. So, Caplin says they are going to rename the party, "Welcome Silver Line... Almost."


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