USA: Federal funding is unlikely to be forthcoming for the 18·7 km first stage of the Washington Metro extension towards Dulles International Airport.

Federal Transit Administrator James Simpson insisted there are 'an extraordinarily large set of challenges' that would exclude the project from receiving $900m in federal grants. FTA had already delayed an announcement on the funding decision for the Dulles project, leading to rumours that it would be rejected. Elected officials from the state of Virginia, which is managing the scheme, then requested a meeting with Simpson which was held on January 24 and was attended by US Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters.

The two federal officials told the Virginia delegation that without drastic revisions the scheme would not be funded. In a follow-up letter, Simpson appeared ready to kill the proposal no matter what changes were made.

'The sheer number and magnitude of the current project's technical, financial and institutional risks and uncertainties are unprecedented,' Simpson wrote. 'I have serious concerns whether it would be appropriate to continue further investment.'

Around $300m had already been cut from the capital cost of Phase 1, which would run from East Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue in Reston.