The Dulles Corridor Rail Association's semi-annual meeting is usually one for partners to talk about construction progress, staying on budget and the day 18 months from now when Metrorail will stop in Tysons Corner and in Reston.
The decision from Loudoun County whether to continue as a partner could change the future of Phase 2 of the Silver Line, which will run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.
"It is absolutely crunch time," Ashburn Supervisor Ralph Buona (R) said. "We have got to finalize financing by Friday night. There will be more public input on Monday, and we will vote first thing Tuesday.
"I am cautiously optimistic," he said. "I would say we are 4-3 so far with two in play. We are doing everything we can to bring them over the finish line."
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said at the meeting he is "completely supportive" of rail to Dulles despite the project being marred by a Project Labor Agreement (which has since been dropped), protests over predicted high tolls on the Dulles Toll Road, and Richmond's reluctance to find more available funds.
"I am here to say you cannot always believe everything you read," McDonnell said. "This is something we have to do. This is one of the most — if not the most — important infrastructure projects in the country. It is also one of the most expensive. Obviously, everyone who has a vote is making sure they are a good steward of the taxpayer money. ... We'll find a way to make sure this gets done in a prudent and economical way that honors the taxpayers."
Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said he is literally taking it one day at a time.
"We've got to look at this in stages," he said. "It has been a multiyear effort to get us to this point. We've got to get past the Loudoun County vote. Before the project can move forward, there has to be confidence in the government, we have to do everything we can to lower the tolls to the lowest amount possible. It is going to be difficult to get additional money out of Richmond until we do that."
Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the Dulles Metrorail Project, gave the crowd an update on Phase 1 construction. He said Phase 1 is on track to be on time and slightly over budget but within the $2.9 billion mark.
He said track and structures are in place and it is down to station electrical work. The last two aerial spans at Tysons Corner should be put in place in the next few weeks, he said.
Nowakowski is also waiting for Loudoun's vote on Phase 2.
"We are completing preliminary engineering," he said. "We are ready to go."