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The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority announced Tuesday its contractors have completed preliminary engineering on Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail extension, and the anticipated cost remains in line with previous estimates.

The project will cost between $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion, according to MWAA. If Fairfax and Loudoun counties independently construct the Route 28 station and the parking garages at the new stations, then the core cost of the project drops to $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion.

Fairfax and Loudoun counties now have 90 days to decided whether or not they want to proceed with the project.

MWAA is overseeing construction of the 11.4-mile rail segment from Reston to Washington Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. The $2.6 billion first phase, from the Orange Line in Falls Church to Tysons Corner and Reston, is expected to be complete next year.

MWAA employed two different contractors to examine the costs, according to Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project. The preliminary engineering work and the slightly lower cost estimate was done by AECOM and Parsons Brinkerhoff, under the joint venture Dulles Rail Consultants.

Another firm, McDonough, Boylard and Peck, was contracted to provide an independent cost estimate. Its slightly higher figure was because of increased inflation assumptions of 4.5 percent per year, Nowakowski said. Dulles Rail Consultants assumed inflation of 3 percent per year.

MWAA now is prepared to begin the bidding process for Phase 2, which will determine the final price. Nowakowski said MWAA expects to award a contract in January 2013, and that construction will take five years.

To solicit public input on the rail project, and to educate the public about the process, Fairfax County is planning a series of community meetings around the county in the next two weeks, concluding with a March 20 public hearing.

The public meeting schedule is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/dullesmetro/.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com