Bob Bruhns wrote:This is eleven-plus miles of track, and it will cost $75 million to do this? We are paying over $6 billion for 23 miles of two tracks in northern VA. Are there hidden costs in the $75 million figure?
I assume you are comparing the millions of dollars for VRE's 11-mile project to Metro/MWAA's billions of dollars. That's really not a useful comparison.
The Arkendale-Powell's Creek work involves adding *1 track* alongside 2 existing tracks, over an existing bridge (that has an empty "slot") and all within an existing right of way. This project is similar to the kind of "no surprises" projects that for-profit freight railroads pay for out of their own pocket: No land acquisition, little site preparation (a few culverts), no utility relocation, no tunnels, no new bridges, no stations, no parking, no power distribution system, no picky abutters to pay off. And the neighbors are mostly undeveloped land.
The Dulles extension OTOH, carves *two tracks* through a populated suburb and around a busy highway, taking land, bulldozing, re-routing road/water/telecom/sewers/electric, tunneling, bridging, building passenger stations, structured parking, underpasses, and power stations. And has to build a lot of temporary stuff and pay off a lot of grouchy neighbors all through construction. The tracks themselves are more expensive: twice the tracks and each needing a 3rd rail for power, fancy sensor/signaling for automatic train operation, and multiple crossover points for switching trains around blockages. 11 stations at (wild guess) $100m each gets you a billion right there. Aerial structures might cost $50m+ per mile. Tunnels $100m+ per mile (which is why they're bridging through Tysons, not tunneling) Much of the Dulles run is aerial (and that which isn't, is triggering aerial stations and road overpasses).
I can't promise you there aren't hidden costs in the VRE project, but it should put your mind at ease to know that the 3rd-tracking is more like a project a for-profit, privately-owned railroad would do for itself.