An audit has been requested for the Dulles Metrorail Project as announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation on June 21, 2011. Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Tom Latham (R-Iowa) have requested the audit, which will also review the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s (MWAA) overall management of local roadways, Dulles International Airport, and Ronald Reagan National Airport. The Dulles MetroRail Project alone has an estimated value of approximately $6 billion, which is a major contributing factor in the audit request. The board of MWAA has come under scrutiny following a decision to build an underground station at Dulles International that may cost taxpayers an estimated $330 million to build more than an above ground equivalent, which is another contributing factor in the audit request.
Certain phases of the project, including the underground rail station, will be funded by tax revenues in both Faixfax and Loudoun counties. Phase II of the project, the extension of the metrorail from Reston to the airport, is going to be funded by Dulles Toll Road revenues and the creation of a special tax district that includes commercial land owners in Fairfax County. Loudon County also has plans in place to raise 5% of project costs from taxpayers. Leaders in both counties have been angered by recent actions of the board which has caused for prospect of additional taxes to being levied. Rep. Wolf’s reasons for the audit include the underground station decision as well as a recent board vote in which the deciding vote of MWAA’s CEO was cast by a board member who hasn’t attended a board meeting in two years while being under house arrest in the Ivory Coast. These instances have opened the floodgates for a wide variety of complaints that has drawn the attention of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. Local governments and MWAA authorities have agreed to work together and cooperate fully with the audit.
Audits in similar projects are common and do not automatically imply wrongdoing. Rep. Wolf has gone on record and stated that he believes that an audit is necessary so that the work is done appropriately on a project that involves such a large amount of money. You can read more about project details at the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project website.