Fairfax County has a serious and immediate transportation funding crisis. It is looking for ways to cover a $3 billion gap in meeting $8.1 billion in transportation needs over the next decade. As part of that effort, the County is sponsoring an ongoing “Dialogue on Transportation” that involves a series of public meetings and a survey of county residents.
Part of the dialogue—and the survey—is looking at a laundry list of tax alternatives to help fund the gap. As presented, none would achieve the aim done alone. All told, some 20 different tax alternatives are laid on the table.
Without doubt, the singularly most preposterous proposal presented is the tolling of the Fairfax County Parkway. As presented, the County could establish a $2.00 toll for entering the Parkway. It estimates that the toll would cost the average county household $89.50 per year, which means the average household would use the Parkway 44-3/4 times per year.
Talk about meaningless information. A regular user of the road, such as a Reston or Herndon commuter headed north or south, would spend about $900 per year to use the road. Others, say in Clifton or Tysons, might not use it at all. In short, once again our County leaders are looking at making a small share of the county citizens pay a sizable portion ($350 million over the decade) just as they did (only secretly) in agreeing to the current grossly inequitable funding arrangements for the Dulles Toll Road.
From a Reston or Herndon perspective, the tolling of the Parkway would mean the diversion of traffic to other north-south routes through these communities in addition to the diversions caused by hikes in tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. In Reston, one could expect additional traffic on Reston Parkway and maybe even Wiehle. In Herndon, its Parkway would probably also see additional traffic at least as far south as the Dulles Toll Road.
Based on the County DOT’s recent brief to the Reston Task Force this month, one can expect a more than four minute delay on Reston Parkway at Sunrise Valley Drive at the peak of the evening rush in 2030 based on the most recent task force development proposal—a level of service even county staff acknowledges is unacceptable. Now think of adding diverted Fairfax County Parkway traffic to that flow.
As part of the County’s dialogue, there will be a public meeting at the North County Government Center on October 3 at 7 p.m. As laid out in the county’s meeting schedule, there are a number of other meetings you can attend if that one is inconvenient. I strongly recommend that the citizens of Reston and Herndon attend one of these meetings, first, to learn about the problem and the possible solutions and, second, to voice your disapproval of the ridiculous proposal to toll the Fairfax County Parkway.
We do have a transportation funding crisis and there are a number of reasonable alternatives for meeting that fiscal challenge. Tolling the Fairfax Parkway is, however, a very bad idea that needs to be nipped in the bud. You need to make sure your voice is heard on the matter.
The author is a member of the Board of Directors for Reston2020.