Photo by fried lemon pie on Flickr.

The Washington Post reported today that the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is building the Silver Line, is considering moving the proposed Metro station at Dulles Airport away from the terminal.

While there are not yet any detailed plans, the move would allow the station to be built above-ground. This could shave quite a bit off the project’s cost. The initial plans for the Silver Line (from 2002) called for an underground station immediately in front of the iconic terminal building.

This new proposal would place the new station adjacent to Daily Garage 1, between the garage and the north side of Saarinen Circle. It would be connected to the terminal by an existing underground walkway with moving sidewalks. This station location would be about 600 feet further from the terminal — the length of a Metro platform.

Estimated location of the alternatives. Red/orange show the currently proposed station and line. Blue/cyan show the new proposal.

While having the Metro station as close to the terminal as possible is certainly advantageous, I don’t think a 600’ walk should be a deal-breaker. Especially if it makes the project cheaper - and therefore more likely to get federal funding.

Other advantages cited by MWAA include proximity to airport offices and the potential for development along Autopilot Drive. The loop through the airport would also be shortened slightly, which could provide a marginal decrease in travel times on the corridor. Although that would be at the expense of increasing travel time from the station to the terminal by 2-3 minutes for passengers boarding or alighting Metro at Dulles.

The Airports Authority will consider the proposal this fall. It is currently being studied by consultants.

The stop at Dulles would be part of the second phase of the Silver Line and is expected to open in 2016. The first phase of the project is currently under construction and will bring Metro to Tysons Corner and Wiehle Avenue around the end of 2013.

Matt Johnson has lived in the Washington area since 2007. He has a Master’s in Planning from the University of Maryland and a BS in Public Policy from Georgia Tech. He lives in Dupont Circle. He’s a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, and is an employee of the Montgomery County Department of Transportation. His views are his own and do not represent those of his employer.