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The opening of the Silver Line could be delayed by two months, officials with the Metropolitan Washington Area Transit Authority announced Wednesday.

Despite assurances to the MWAA Board of Directors last month that the project remained on schedule, authority staff and contractor Dulles Transit Partners now estimate that they will need an additional eight weeks for testing and adjustments to the new rail system before turning it over to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for final testing and the start of Metro service.

WMATA will ultimately decide when Silver Line service will begin.

The Silver Line was supposed to be turned over to WMATA Sept. 9, with service potentially starting by the end of the year. The delay pushes the possible start of rail service to early 2014, although project managers said they will work with WMATA to minimize delays.

“Our main goal has always been safety and quality — it supersedes all else,” said airports authority President and CEO Jack Potter in a released statement. “Any project this large and complex is inevitably going to encounter unexpected issues that require additional tests and adjustments. With Phase 1 of the Silver Line nearly complete, there isn’t sufficient time in the schedule to recover from recently identified matters within the original plan.”

Additional testing will provide more detail about the timeline. The airports authority board will receive another update on the schedule next month.

kschumitz@fairfaxtimes.com