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The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project Report (Assessment)

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2022

Executive summary

Project management refers to using skills, methods, processes, experience, and knowledge to achieve specified project objectives within a timeline and budget. Effective project management is supposed to integrate and consider all relevant internal and external factors. Successful projects incorporate ethics and social responsibility in their activities. The report examines the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project in Northern Virginia, U.S. It was essential for Washington D.C. residents who often found it challenging using Dulles International airport. The political and financial environment in which the project thrives influences the external factors affecting its implementation. Adopting the corporate social responsibility idea in the implementation of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project has a positive impact on the project team and the community in Washington and Northern Virginia. The report ends with a conclusion and recommendations for successful projects in the same field.


The transport sector plays an integral part in the growth of the economy of the country. The United States is one of the countries with the highest state of the art infrastructure and well-developed construction industry. The government has been investing in massive projects for the benefit of the general public and growth of its industries. The booming construction industry has had extensive projects with proper funding from the United States government. These projects have added value to the construction industry, with many mega projects having been completed while others still in process.

The construction sector is a field which is recording significant growth attributed to the enhancement of infrastructure and technology. Most of the developments are funded by the government because they are instrumental to the general public. The highly funded construction projects require proper management to allow all stakeholders such as contractors, suppliers, employees, the public, the government, and other financiers to benefit.

Research Project

Dulles Transit Extension is one of the most significant infrastructure projects which have been implemented in the United States. The project was established to extend the Dulles Metrorail corridor connecting the Dulles International Airport and downtown Washington, D.C. According to the initial plan, it was supposed to allow the construction of a 23-mile extension of Washington’s Metrorail system (Kelleny, 2016).

The extension brought an addition of 11 more stations along the track. The project was entrusted to the Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) of the United States. It took part in two phases; phase 1 started in 2008 and opened in July 2014, and phase 2 commenced in 2014 (A fast, smooth ride for D.C.-area riders, 2021). Phase 1 consisted of five stations on an 11.7-mile track, while phase 2 was planned to cover the remaining stations and distance (A fast, smooth ride for D.C.-area riders, 2021). Since the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project was extensive and significant, it was necessary to adopt proper management to ensure the benefits of all stakeholders.

The Project demanded extensive funding for all the activities which were supposed to be completed. The 23-mile project with additional 11 new stations on the track was costly; an estimated $6.2 billion was spend on it (Funding Agreement Signed, 2021, para. 8).

The project was financed by different parties since it demanded a substantial amount of money. The federal government provided a total of $975 million of funds to start and continue the project (Project Profile: Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, 2021, para. 10). The contribution of the state government was significant at $200 million. The remaining amount was provided by the local county governments, the Dulles International Airport itself, and funds would be collected from increased fees on the existing road leading to the airport (Funding Agreement Signed, 2021). There was need for a reliable management which could ensure proper ethics and corporate social responsibility because of the high budget which was in consideration.

Location of the Project

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project was essential for Washington D.C. residents who often found it hard travelling from Dulles International Airport (A fast, smooth ride for D.C.-area riders, 2021). The over 20-mile distance from Dulles international airport to downtown often involved long car rides, expensive taxis, and infrequent busses. The project would provide a one-seat movement from Dulles International Airport to downtown Washington D.C. in less than three hours.

Relevance of the Project

Achieving the milestone was dependent on completing the extension of the Metro System through the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The project’s public transport system provides access to Washington D.C from Dulles and a linkage to Reston, Herndon, Ashburn, and Tyson’s Corner suburbs (A fast, smooth ride for D.C.-area riders, 2021). Its completion provided a connection from the airport to the region’s transit system and reduced congestion on the Beltway. Its importance to the public, government, airport, and economy shows the need for enhanced proper project management. The report investigates the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project in the United States, the external factors affecting the project, the role of ethics and social responsibility, and provides a recommendation for similar projects.

Body of the Report

Literature Review on Factors Affecting Construction Projects

The implementation of a project depends on both internal and external factors affecting its implementation. These features are also called the Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF) (Kerzner, 2017). The inside factors include governance approach, skill availability, company infrastructure, and risk attitude. Similarly, the external factors are the political and financial climate affecting the project’s execution. The implementation of projects depends on the organization’s policies and standards (Kelleny, 2016). The organizational system comprises the organizational structures which have an impact on the project. The EEF have powers to direct, constraint, or influence the project in the absence of the project management team (Kerzner, 2017). Similarly, the EEF factors may have both negative and positive impacts on the outcome of the project.

The internal factors can easily be influenced during project analysis, while the external factors are uncontrollable by the project management team. Various construction projects in the United States are influenced by the external factors in which they are subjected in the external environment (Levy, 2018). The political and financial environment influencing the projects’ construction are the external factors affecting its implementation. The constructions had different impacts including visible physical changes and human aspects. The latter comprise of conflict of ideas exhibited by the stakeholders involved (Levy, 2018). Thus, it is important to understand both internal and external factors affecting project implementation in various regions.

Results and Discussions on Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project

The residents’ views on the impact of the developments on the environment were a consideration; some believed the project had detrimental impact on the environment. The project led to new penetration in the highly commercial Tyson’s Corner while other extensions were done on the existing transportation corridors (Hollis and Wheeler, 2018). The impact of the project on its environment determines the effect of the external factors on the project (Dulles Metro’s commitment to the environment, 2021). The changes created by projects have different impacts on the environment in which the projects are established because they lead to different physical infrastructure changes. They impact the infrastructure, air quality, noise, vibration, water resources, traffic, and transit operations in different ways.

The impacts of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project on its environment affected the external factors which favored the project’s construction. The project affected operations of motorists, transit riders, residents, transit workers, recreational rail users, office or commercial workers, commercial viewers, hotel guests, employees, and distant residents (Hollis and Wheeler, 2018). The impact of the project on the environment is either adverse or beneficial. Therefore, the project’s construction is subjected to different impacts. Similarly, the project was in need of land leading to displacement of residents, existing infrastructure and activities.

Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2013 and opened in 2014 for operations by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) in accordance with the proposal in the initial project planning stages. Phase 2 of the project was at a 99% completion as per January 2021 reports (Profile: Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, 2021). Therefore, the impact of the project on the external environment is evident.

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project required land to expand the existing system with new stations and transit lines in some new regions such as Tyson’s Corner (Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, 2019). The need for land, required land acquisitions and displacements of different types and numbers of properties. The acquisitions and displacements involved both private and public property of residents in the extension area (Profile: Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, 2021). The identification of parcels for acquisitions and displacements for the implementation of the project was key.

The land acquisition process involved prior analysis of the parcels of land which were needed for the project implementation. The insight gained from the analysis was instrumental and relevant in the process of displacing the residents, businesses community, and institutions which were occupying the lands in consideration. Private landowners and public agencies provided land for the transit facilities, which also needed analysis before acquisition. The project had 105 parcels of land acquired for the implementation of the project in Northern Virginia (Project Documents, 2021). Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA) acquired all the parcels and successfully transferred them to MWATA on July 25, 2014 (Project Documents, 2021). The conditions under which the parcels were acquired form some of the external factors impacting the project.

The allocated funds from the federal government standing at $975 million for the extension of Wiehle Avenue were a factor of concern. The federal government allocation is catered for in each financial year budget. The Wiehle Avenue extension funding had 50% allocation from the federal funds in the form of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) 5309 New Starts (Project Documents, 2021). The amount summed up to $760.7 million Years of Expenditure (YOE) (Project Documents, 2021). The Virginia Transportation Act of 2000 provided $75 million YOE of funds, making 5% of the funding share.

The Dulles Toll Road revenues provided a total of $305.4 million YOE funds summing up to 20% of the funding share. The Dulles Rail Transportation Improvement District provided a total of $380.4 million YOE of funds a representation of 25% of the remaining funding share (Project Documents, 2021). The FTA’s $760.7 million funds represent 50% of the project’s cost, a practice adopted for major transit capital investments (Project Documents, 2021). The funds’ sourcing had a huge impact on the project completion. The availability of funds was crucial in ensuring timely completion of the projects as earlier planned.

The federal government laws, policies and constitutional Acts are highly embedded in the political system of a country. Changes in Acts, laws, policies, and regulations by federal governments, state, and local governments have substantial impacts on their funded projects. A change in section 380 of the FY Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriation Act would change the project’s allocation.

The Act ensured the FTA contingent commitment to providing an additional $217.8 million funds specifically for the Dulles Corridor Rapid Transit project (Project Documents, 2021). FTA uses contingent commitment in the provision of funds for New Starts beyond the current authorization limit. New Starts program is provided in a multi-year budget circle where the amounts for New Starts are agreed and budgeted for in the financial years (Shah et al., 2019). For financial years 1998 to 2003, an approximated $8.2 billion budget was authorized by the 21st century Transportation Equity Act for the New Starts program (Project Documents, 2021). The analysis of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project shows external factors such as financial and political climate have an impact on project completion.

Role of Ethics and Social Responsibility

Ethics and social responsibility are important aspects needed for the success of a project. The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines ethics as making the best decisions regarding the environment, people, and resources (Uribe, Ortiz-Marcos, and Uruburu, 2018). Ethical decisions reduce risks, increase positive results, increase trust, provide opportunities for long-lasting success, and enhance proper reputations. Project management requires good management ethics which dictates the leadership techniques being adopted (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel, 2017). The success of a project depends on the ethical decisions of the project manager and his/her team.

The need for ethics in the execution of successful projects, provides a platform for ethical code of conduct and professional PMI document roll-out. The documents state and elaborate on project managers’ conduct and behaviors for adoption to foresee success in workbooks. Honesty, fairness, respect, and trust are fundamental values which dictate the project’s success (Radujković and Sjekavica, 2017). The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project’s success relied mainly on well-established ethical standards of the project management team, MWAA, and the project owner.

There was a need for honesty in the acquisition of land, property (private and public), and displacement of residents and businesses along the Silver Line. The need for honesty was to facilitate the acquisition of the 105 parcels without conflict with the residents and businesses (Radujković and Sjekavica, 2017).

The value of fairness was highly essential in making payments of the land parcels during the acquisitions. The project team would similarly ensure there is equality in settlements distribution of stations along with the 23-mile extension, and employment offers to Washington and Northern Virginia residents. Respect is an ethical virtue which need to be upheld during the implementation of a successful project. Trust among the project team members, the project owner, and the project’s financiers is another crucial aspect of ethics which has to be considered for a project’s success. The success of phase 1 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project was an illumination of the ethics which were upheld within the project period.

The environment and community in which a project is implemented need to be protected by its activities. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) incorporates social and environmental factors in their strategies with high considerations for the world’s responsibility (Shah et al, 2019). The organizations agree to take responsibility for their effects on shareholders, customers, communities, employees, and the environment. The organizations take the responsibility of improving the welfare of their employees and the society in accordance with the rules and regulations safeguarding their interest. Integrating CSR with the goals of the organization is an essential path to success. Project managers can incorporate CSR in their work to ensure achievement of goodwill when implementing their decisions. Application of CSR is critical and collectively fundamental to the society and the company. Therefore, adopting the CSR ensures proper social relation within the community is maintained.

Considering the CSR idea when implementing the Dulles Corridor Metrorail project had a win-win scenario on the project team and the community in Washington and Northern Virginia. The main objective of an organization when implementing the project was operating in a tolerable environment and optimize its profits. (Project Profile: Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, 2021). The project was supposed to be creating jobs for more than 2,000 Washington residents; both on the construction sites and in the operations of the Silver Line. The creation of 11 new stations along the 23-mile corridor increased businesses and activities along the track and within the stations. The new rail’s construction and operation would increase noise pollution along the track, with MWATA being held accountable.

Ethics and corporate social responsibility play a vital role in the implementation of a successful project. Ethics define the conduct of the project management team, including the project manager (Levy, 2018). Ethical decisions lead to an open, fair, honest, and trusted project by all stakeholders, therefore, improving the organization’s reputation. The need for ethics in project delivery is essential for the organization’s growth and acceptance. Ethics guide and tie the behavior of the organization to equity, fairness, honesty, and trust among the stakeholders. Incorporating the idea of corporate social responsibility in all parts of the project was key in ensuring the organization deals responsibly with its employees, customers, stakeholders, and the environment it operates in (Corporate social responsibility, 2018).

The managers should take responsibility for the impact of the project on the environment. The CSR’s incorporation ensures the organization’s reputation is established alongside high benefits to the community. The discussion has shown how the essential roles played by ethics and CSR determines a project’s success. Furthermore, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project analysis has shown the significant roles of ethics and social responsibility.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The Dulles Corridor Metrorail project is one of the most advanced infrastructure construction projects done in the United States. The project completion costs were at $6.2 billion in funds for both phase 1 and 2. The project plan was to construct a 23-mile extension of Washington’s Metrorail system and add 11 more stations along the track. Different parties funded the project since massive amount of money was needed. The funds were from the federal, state, local governments, fees from the existing Toll road, and the airport itself. The funds ensure the success of the project hence the need to encourage an all-round contribution to other public construction projects in the country.

The success of the project was affected by both internal and external factors. The external factors included the financial and political climate of the project. Therefore, it is important for managers to align the internal aspects to ensure the success of the project. It is also instrumental for project leaders to ensure positive impact of the projects on the external environment so reduce external challenges and resistance.

MWAA was highly successful with the Dulles Corridor project in both the first and second phase because of the effective management strategies which were in place. It is thus, important for other construction companies and managers within the country to understand the external factors, and the roles of ethics and social responsibility on the success of construction plans. Managers should have methods of assessing the implementation and effectiveness of CSR during project implementation.

Reference List

A fast, smooth ride for D.C.-area riders (2021). Web.

Corporate social responsibility (2018). Web.

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Funding Agreement Signed (2021). Web.

Hollis, L.E. and Wheeler, S. (2018) Suburban remix. London: Island Press.

Kelleny, B.M. (eds.) (2016) Strategic planning framework for mega projects traffic management: showcases from Dulles Metrorail Corridor and London Crossrail. Cairo, Egypt, Conference: Sustainable Mega Projects.

Kerzner, H. (2017) Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling. Ohio: John Wiley & Sons.

Levy, S.M. (2018) Project management in construction. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Meredith, J.R. Shafer, S.M. and Mantel Jr, S.J. (2017) Project management: a strategic managerial approach. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

Project Documents (2021). Web.

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Radujković, M. and Sjekavica, M. (2017) ‘Project management success factors’, Procedia engineering, 196 (1), pp. 607-615. Web.

Shah, et al. (2019) (No. FTA Report No. 0130). United States. Federal Transit Administration. Office of Research, Demonstration, and Innovation. Web.

Uribe, D., Ortiz-Marcos, I. and Uruburu, Á., (2018) ‘What is going on with stakeholder theory in project management literature? A symbiotic relationship for sustainability’, Sustainability, 10(4). Web.

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