Schefer argues against underground rail

Washington Airports Task Force President Leo Schefer is adding his name to the chorus of public officials who want the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to rethink its recent decision to build the rail underground.

On Tuesday morning, Schefer outlined for reporters a budget plan that he says could save the project between $500 million to $800 million if built above ground.

The plan would save an estimated $330 million by building an above ground station with weather shield and porter service, plus another $100 million by negotiating parking garage space with Loudon and Fairfax counties. The task force argues an additional $50 million could be saved through a shared rail yard with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

“Funding is going to be extremely difficult” for an underground station, Schefer said.

Early this month the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority decided to build the Dulles Metro station underground, calling that option more rider-friendly. Opponents argue it's too costly.

The current cost estimate for phase two of the project is $3.5 billion. Schefer said the issue is whether or not phase two of the Silver Line can be funded and built.