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Fairfax County Could Sell Air Rights to Fight Tolls

With tolls projected to increase, officials are looking into air rights sales.

Fairfax County is exploring how selling air rights could help reduce tolls on the Dulles Toll Road that are expected to shoot up with Phase II Silver Line construction.

Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) asked staff last week to look into the cost of a study determining how much money the county could charge developers for the right to build over the Toll Road and new Silver Line Metro stations.

Air rights over roads and rail have been sold numerous times in New York City. For example, the 58-story Metlife building in New York is built in air rights above Grand Central Terminal. The city is also hoping to make as much as $750 million for mass transit improvements through air rights sales around Grand Central, according to Bloomberg.

“There’s broad agreement and consensus that this is worth looking at but nobody’s actually looking at it,” Herrity said. “I am concerned about the impact of the tolls on the economic health of the corridor.”

Under the current funding model, toll road users would foot about 75 percent of the bill for the $3 billion extension from Reston to Dulles International Airport.

“Air rights” is a legal term used to describe the area above or below the plane of a transportation facility. The right to use the space can be leased to public or private parties.

Herrity says the revenue can go right towards toll alleviation. Air rights would only be sold for the 23-mile second phase of the Silver Line.

With officials shooting to have a construction contract for Phase II by May 2013, Herrity said the county needed to act as fast as possible before stations are designed.

“It’s not something that going to happen today, but if we don’t do something today, we preclude the opportunity of seeing that revenue source in the future,” he said. “I don’t want to run out of time on this one.”

Herrity said he had received estimates on studies for two stations that would total about $50,000 and take 60 days.

Staff will come back to the Board with a short presentation and cost estimates for a feasibility study to be discussed at a coming Transportation Committee meeting. No exact date has been set.

“I just want to see the ball start moving,” Herrity said.

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Dave Webster March 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM
I note for the record that with regard to BWI both the Maryland Aviation Administration and the Maryland Department of Transportation are agencies of the State of Maryland that are subject to Maryland law. Unfortunately, we have MWAA which is a hybrid organization subject only to its own internal regulating mechanisms. MWAA as a body is completely unfit to run a private, commercial enterprise and its organizational structure runs afoul of the most basic of political maxims: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Rob, I am sure cruel experience has taught you that when a political body is not subject to statutory oversight, such as the Freedom of Information Act, that body will inevitably develop a culture of arrogance and even corruption.
Bob Bruhns March 28, 2013 at 03:00 AM
Well! VDOT claims ownership of the 'air space' property in Tysons Corner. Air Rights Development High-Level Screening Report Virginia Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships http://www.vappta.org/resources/Air%20Rights%20High%20Level%20Screening.pdf From Page 1: Air Rights Development High-Level Project Screening Report This report and recommendation is part of the high-level screening process used by the Office of Transportation Public-Private Partnerships (OTP3) to assess the suitability of delivering a project under the Public-Private Transportation Act (PPTA) of 1995, as amended. OTP3 recommends the Air Rights Development project be advanced to the detail-level screening phase of the PPTA process. The detailed-level screening will consider elements of a business case for the project with the goal of maximizing value and public benefits. The detailed screening will: • Assess the opportunities of interest based on market dynamics and the viability of Air Rights development around the four Metro Stations in Tysons Corner of Fairfax County. • Identify the potential uses while meeting local and land use needs/requirements as well as financial analysis and transaction structure. Once the detailed-level review is complete, the OTP3 will provide a recommendation to the PPTA Steering Committee as to whether the project is a good candidate PPTA project and the level of priority for the Commonwealth to advance into the procurement phase.
Bob Bruhns March 28, 2013 at 03:01 AM
From page 2: Activity - Completion Date ---------------------------------- Project Kickoff - September 3, 2012 Data collection / analysis for Specific Sites - September 17, 2012 Business Case Development - October 15, 2012 Develop Proforma for Future Air Rights Analyses and Potential Sites - December 1, 2012 Complete detailed level screening - December 31,2012
Bob Bruhns March 28, 2013 at 03:02 AM
From Page 3: "Air Rights" is a legal term used in highway terminology to describe that area above or below the plane of a transportation facility located within the existing right-of-way boundaries. The right to use this area by public or private parties for interim non-highway uses may be granted in airspace leases, as long as it will not interfere with the construction, operations and maintenance of the facility; anticipated future transportation needs; or the safety and security of the facility for both highway and non-highway users. With the development of the Silver Line of the Dulles Metro Rail project, four of the phase 1 Metrorail stations are being built within Tysons Corner. Two of the stations, Tysons East and Tysons Central 123, are locate on Route 123. The other two, Tysons Central 7 and Tysons West, are located on Route 7. (continued)
Bob Bruhns March 28, 2013 at 03:08 AM
From Pg.3 (continued): VDOT owns the property at or around these stations and would like to explore whether development at, around, and or atop these stations would make business sense, be feasible, integrate with local land use/transportation plans, and meet the local needs. According to the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan, the vision is to transform Tysons Corner from suburban office park and activity center to an urban center that could include 200,000 jobs and 100,000 residents. The vision also calls for 75% of all development to be located within an easy walk (1/2 mile) of Metro. Such transit oriented development (TOD) might include a combination of commercial, office, and/or residential projects as well as public amenities such as parks and green areas. The transportation benefits of the potential project will address the travel demand management, vehicle trip reduction and improve mobility by building livable and sustainable communities. A potential public-private partnership (P3) would net revenues to VDOT to be used in funding other transportation projects in the region or elsewhere in the state through ground or air right lease space. Additionally, knowledge and experience gained from this project would aid in the development of a model for future air rights analyses and be applied to other potential sites in other regions of the state. Signed and dated September 21, 2012 by Gregory Whirley Commissioner of Highways, Virginia Department of Transportation

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