A successful bond sale this month completes a final step in financing the construction of the Silver Line extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail public transit system, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority reported Wednesday at its board of directors meeting. The $422 million par value Dulles Toll Revenue bonds, which were priced on May 14, and will close on May 22, is the final fixed-rate Toll Road Revenue bond sale to finance the Silver Line project. High investor interest helped drive down interest rates for the bonds, which were rated Baa1 by Moody’s and Baa1 by Standard & Poor’s. Drivers on the Dulles Toll Road will ultimately benefit from the low interest rates achieved on these bonds.
With the completion of the bond sale and the May 1 announcement of federal approval of the application for a low-interest loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program, major financing for the Airports Authority’s portion of the Silver Line project will soon be complete.
“Our pledge from the beginning of our stewardship of the Silver Line and the Dulles Toll Road has been to limit the impact on drivers,” said Airports Authority Chairman Frank M. Conner III. “This final bond sale in a low interest-rate environment, as well as other efforts such as the recently approved low-interest federal loan and the $300 million committed by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the project, allow us to fulfill that pledge. And we will continue working to find cost savings that can be passed along to Toll Road users.”
During its monthly meeting the board of directors also received an update on changes in air service at Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports, including a recap of the recent announcement by Frontier Airlines of new low-cost service to 14 destinations from Dulles International beginning in August. The briefing also included information about the recent announcement by Southwest Airlines of new flight schedules to Chicago Midway; Dallas Love Field; Indianapolis, Ind.; and Akron/Canton, Ohio at Reagan National and new service from Dulles International to San Diego and Las Vegas.
Additionally, the board received a briefing on the Airports Authority’s recently completed 2012 Economic Impact Survey (available here). The independent analysis, conducted by Willdan Financial and Economic Consulting Services, indicates Airports Authority’s operations are responsible for more than 4.5 percent of the National Capital Region’s annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP), generating or supporting more than 387,000 jobs, $15 billion in labor income, $1.9 billion in state and local taxes, and $21 billion in business revenue.
Plans were also announced for a new express bus that will serve Dulles passengers this summer when Silver Line trains begin carrying them closer to the airport. The Silver Line Express bus, part of the airport’s well-known Washington Flyer brand, will operate non-stop service between the Wiehle-Reston East station and Dulles every 20 minutes off-peak and every 15 minutes during peak travel times. The newly purchased buses will include complimentary Wi-Fi service. Fares will be $5 each way. The existing Washington Flyer bus service from West Falls Church will be discontinued when the Silver Line opens on a date to be announced by the Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority.
The board meeting concluded with a special presentation. Airports Authority Police Department Cpl. Keith Shibley was awarded the department’s Valor Award for his courageous efforts to evacuate and protect victims from a gunman at the Washington Navy Yard on Sept. 16, 2013. The award is the highest honor that a police officer can earn from the Airports Authority, and it is presented to those who are distinguished for their bravery and heroism by knowingly putting their lives in great danger while demonstrating extraordinary judgment in performing their duties and saving lives.
A full description of Corporal Shibley’s actions and a picture of the award presentation can be found here.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia, manages and operates Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International airports, which together serve more than 40 million passengers a year. The Airports Authority also operates and maintains the Dulles Airport Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road and manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail system into Loudoun County, Va. No tax dollars are used to operate the toll road, which is funded by toll revenues, or the airports, which are funded through aircraft landing fees, rents and revenues from concessions. The Silver Line construction is funded by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations. The Airports Authority is led by a 17-member board of directors, appointed by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States, and generates more than 387,000 jobs and 4.5 percent of GDP in the National Capital Region.