Dulles Airport rail link considers PPP

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority has issued a Request for Information for a $3.2bn railway project. The authority can fully fund the rail link using public money, but is eyeing project finance to mitigate a needed toll increase to pay for the project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) is considering the use of project finance to help fund a $3.2 billion rail link to Washington’s Dulles International Airport.

MWAA has released a Request for Information (RFI) and is asking prospective bidders to submit proposals “providing cost-effective project financing” solutions by Monday, December 12, according to the RFI.

The 23-mile second phase of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is currently being procured as a publicly funded, design-build project, with about $2.1 billion of the required funding coming from tax-exempt revenue bonds secured against revenues from the state’s Dulles Toll Road. The remaining funds will come from a variety of public sources.

However, MWAA wants to see if a public-private partnership – secured by Dulles Toll Road revenues – could somehow help mitigate the fare increases it will have to implement on the Dulles Toll Road to fund the 23-mile light rail stretch. The toll road has a 25-year operating history.

According to the RFI, the rail link is set for completion in 2016. A MWAA spokeswoman declined to comment beyond the RFI.