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The Metro summer shutdown: Where does the money come from?

The Platform Reconstruction Project is costing between $300 and $400 million. Here, we break down exactly where that comes from.

Photo courtesy of Visit Alexandria

The Metro summer shutdown is only the beginning of WMATA’s three-year plan to completely reconstruct 20 outdoor platforms at various stations, spanning across Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland.

That’s a whole lot of work. But how exactly are the two states and the District paying for it?

Back in March 2018, Metro received a final vote from Maryland that enabled it to receive an annual stream of revenue of $500 million in order to ensure safety and rehabilitation of the rail and bus systems. With that, plus annual federal funding, Metro’s 10-year capital needs inventory amounts to about $15 billion.

“Two-hundred dollars is the base construction contract for phase one of the three-phase Platform Improvement Project and does not include supporting activities including shuttle bus services, engineering, project management and other related expenses,” says Metro spokesman Ian Jannetta.

According to Janetta, the other portion of the allotted funding for the project will go toward any efforts that may be needed in order to maximize use of track availability for maintenance and improvements as the shutdown continues.

In addition to Virginia’s annual portion of funding for Metro, the state is spending $3.6 million on supplemental mitigation measures for the project, including alternative bus routes, discounted Amtrak trips for local riders and expanded bus and water taxi service, according to the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT).

The $3.6 million comes from residual money that was leftover from old, completed projects within the state, according to Chief of Public Transportation for the DRPT, Jennifer DeBruhl.

To determine how the state funds would be allotted, Metro led a year-long process with DRPT  and the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

“We evaluated all of the recommendations we received from local government and put together a comprehensive strategy that we presented to the board back in March,” says DuBruhl. “We actually presented a strategy that was voted on the next day, which is a little unusual.”

While there is typically a month lag between presentations and taking action, the need for supplemental service was so significant and timely, that the officials went ahead and put the plans in motion in order to be ready for the summer-long shutdown.

The project has also created the opportunity for new jobs. As a result of the three-month-long summer platform reconstruction project, WMATA has employed more than 600 workers in the region, according to Jannetta.

As for possible delays or other circumstances that may lead to a necessary increase in funding, WMATA and the DRPT are prepared. According to WMATA, the Board of Directors will evaluate any requests and justifications for additional budget support “when appropriate.”

“We are working very closely with the local transit providers to implement our strategies and make adjustments,” explains DuBruhl on behalf of the DRPT. “There may be some strategies that are undersubscribed, so through this dialogue we will be able to move something around if we have to.”

This article is a part of our ongoing coverage of the Summer Platform Improvement Project. We will continue to update and inform the community about the project throughout the summer. See all of our coverage here.

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