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How Do You Feel About Toll Increases?

Tell MWAA your thoughts in public comment forums.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) has opened a public comment period about proposed toll rate increases along the Dulles Toll Road. The tolls support operation of the Toll Road and construction of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project and Dulles Toll Road improvements.

Under the toll rate proposal, the combined main plaza and ramp tolls, currently $2.25 for 2-axle vehicles, would increase according to this schedule:

  • $2.75 in 2013
  • $3.50 in 2014
  • $4.50 in 2015

 Informational exhibits, including an “On-Line Open House,” are now available at www.mwaa.com/tollroad.

Public comments may be submitted online or through the mail between now and Sept. 16 (click here for address), or in person at one of three upcoming public hearings along the Dulles corridor. The hearings will be conducted in an open house format at these locations, dates and times:

 Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Stone Bridge High School - Cafeteria

43100 Hay Road, Ashburn, VA 20147

 

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

South Lakes High School – Cafeteria

11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston, VA 20191

 

Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Spring Hill Elementary School

8201 Lewinsville Road, McLean, VA 22102

 

The hearings will include informational exhibits about the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, the cost and financing of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project and potential improvements that may be made to the Dulles Toll Road, and the cost of operating the Toll Road. Representatives from the Airports Authority will be present to discuss these items.

 The Airports Authority is responsible for the construction of Metrorail through the Dulles Corridor. As part of this program, the Commonwealth of Virginia transferred the operation of the Dulles Toll Road to the Airports Authority in 2008 under a 50-year permit to operate and improve the Toll Road and to use the revenues from the tolls to help finance the rail construction and other improvements to the Toll Road and the Dulles Corridor.

The first phase of rail to Dulles will open in late 2013, with the final stop at Reston's Wiehle Avenue. Phase 2, still in the planning stages, will run from Reston Parkway to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County.

For more information about the Dulles Rail Project and the Dulles Toll Road, please visit www.mwaa.com.

 

Ray Wedell August 18, 2012 at 12:14 PM
If every Reston resident attended these meetings and opposed the toll increases, would they not take effect? These increases have been decided on already, and any hearing is a necessary formality. When any discussion on increased taxes occurs, why is it that unavoidable fee increases such as these never get added into the equation? $4.50 for a short ride to Tyson's, and guess what...we will be told in 3 years that even that is not enough.
Rob Whitfield August 18, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Ray, the MWAA Board will not vote to approve toll increases until October or November 2012. But you are correct, the Board has already decided that one of several toll increase options will be implemented on January 1, 2013. No attempt has been made by MWAA's Board, our local members of Congress, local state legislators, Virginia Governor McDonnell or Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton to study any Dulles Rail funding option but increased tolls. I asked the Governor on WTOP's "Ask the Governor" program on November 30, 2010: "What options to increased DTR tolls have you studied for funding Dulles Rail Phase 2?" After a minute of blather, the Governor promised to have Connaughton look into the issue but no respose from Richmond has ever been made. The Governor's $150 million toll buydown over the next 3 years will do little to solve the overall 50 year problem of $17 billion in tolls that we face. If implemented, the long term toll increases will help diminish the economic competitiveness of the Dulles Corridor to the benefit of Tysons Corner, the I-66 corridor and other parts of Northern Virginia. A year ago, I suggested to a local Congressman establishing a joint federal, state and local oversight committee, including community and business stakeholders, to study options for the future of the Dulles Corridor and Dulles Airport area and propose priorities and funding options for transportation improvements . Again, no response has ever been received.
Rob Whitfield August 18, 2012 at 03:34 PM
Last year, I proposed a Dulles Rail funding option to a local Congressman and certain MWAA Board members and staff. No response has ever been received. By restructuring the existing long term lease between the US government with MWAA, up to $1.5 billion in federal loan funds could be provided towards capital costs of Dulles Rail. In contrast to the Phase 1 $900 million "New Starts" grant provided, the loan can be repaid over the next 50 years at an interest rate of approximately 3%. Amortized over 50 years, annual loan payments would be in the $35 to $50 million range depending on the loan amount. This should be paid 50% by MWAA's airport operations and 50% by Dulles Toll Road operations. The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program provides Federal credit assistance in the form of direct loans, loan guarantees, and standby lines of credit to finance surface transportation projects of national and regional significance. As of August 17, 2012, the TIFIA interest rate was 2.91%. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ipd/tifia/ By contrast, MWAA's average cost of capital for the over $1.3 billion of BBB rated debt issued for Dulles Toll Road revenue bonds in 2009 and 2010 has averaged over 6%. To date, Virginia has claimed that it is unable to provide credit enhancement to assist in lowering the cost of capital for MWAA revenue bonds. Another major funding option not studied is for rail passengers pay at least 25% of total capital costs.
Michael August 18, 2012 at 03:35 PM
It's all just so McDonnell can claim to balance the budget "without tax increases." A project like Metro should have been funded by a much broader base, given the broader benefit. But gimmicks will prevail as long as the voters demand higher services but shun the taxes to pay for them.
Rob Whitfield August 18, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Michael, much blame for a lack of Dulles Rail funding lies with several prior Governors and the Piedmont Environmental Council. The latter in 2002 fought the Regional Sales Tax referendum which was to be the state source of Dulles Rail funding. The PEC feared that rail to Loudoun County would bring increased development pressures in the Middleburg area and other parts of western LoCo. Most politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, prefer to kick the can down the road so that the next offiical has to deal with the funding mess. The entitlement mentality of most people, including most of our elected representatives, knows no bounds - particularly for transit projects whose economic and financial feasibility have never been demonstrated.
Peter Anthony Hovis August 18, 2012 at 04:02 PM
the MWAA Board has already decided that one of several toll increase options will be implemented on January 1, 2013.....continued MWAA Board toll increases without representation....further, the burden will be on alternative vehicular routes/infrastructure - Route 7, Lawyers Road, Georgetown Pike, etc. - all such routes are unable to handle the increased capacity!!!
Tammi Petrine August 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Reston 2020, a committee of Reston Citizens Association (RCA) has studied this issue closely for over two years and widely publicized the disastrous effects that the toll increases will have on the residents and businesses of the Dulles Corridor. Not one of our local elected "representatives" have come up with any other means of financing the cost of the Silver Line of Metro which is a total of $17 BILLION!!! 54% of that ($9.2 BILLION) will come out of OUR pockets!!! ARE YOU KIDDING??? To say that this is outrageous, irresponsible and egregious is a gross understatement. NO OTHER leg of Metro in VA or elsewhere has been funded on the backs of such a tiny demographic. When EVERY other leg of Metro has been built, we have all chipped in as well as the federal government. What is so different with the Silver Line? This cost clearly MUST be spread over a much larger base or it will kill the goose (The vibrant Dulles corridor) that has been laying the golden eggs for both Fairfax County AND the Commonwealth of Virginia. Do our "representatives" seriously believe that is fair or feasible without serious repercussions? How can they NOT see what we who live here in Reston see so clearly? Already with tolls at the PRESENT level, I and a lot of my neighbors avoid the DTR, the ONLY toll road in N. VA. When tolls increase in Jan, '13, more and more drivers will divert to alternative routes which are already being used beyond capacity: Read GRIDLOCK.
Rob Whitfield August 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I omitted to mention the public body which has most failed the public - the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. At least in Loudoun County, Supervisors made a good faith effort to evaluate certain issues associated with Phase 2 Dulles Rail. Fairfax Supervisors did next to nothing over the last year to investigate the issues. Supervisor Pat Herrity tried twice to have the County conduct a fiscal impact study of the consequences of toll increases on the Dulles Corridor economy. Chairman Bulova and WMATA Chairman and Supervisor Cathy Hudgins did not dare to allow any chance for facts to interfere with their plan to screw Dulles Corridor taxpayers. To help ensure that commuters will be forced to take the Silver Line instead of express buses, our Supervisors plan to cut most Fairfax Connector bus service in Reston while adding extensive bus service to and from Tysons Corner from surrounding areas and via the new I-495 HOT lanes -or whatever it is called now. As for bus commuters from Reston to the Pentagon and Crystal City, having raised fares to $7.50 each way, it looks like Supervisors, who tried to eliminate your service two years ago, now plans to do so next year. http://www.slideshare.net/fairfaxcounty/tac-presentation-july-2012
Rob Whitfield August 18, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Two more things. In 2010, Fairfax County Supervisors asked staff to propose funding options for implementing Countywide transportation and Tysons Corner infrastructure improvements, which some supervisors believe should be mostly paid for by taxpayers rather than Tysons landowners. The 10 year countywide capital improvement need costs were estimated at $10 billion for which $5 billion in funding sources were then "unidentified." The July 2010 staff presentation to the BOS showed proposed Countywide tax increases including a 4% meals tax, 2% increase in hotel occupancy tax, 2% increase in rental car tax, a 0.5% increase in the sales tax - can't remember what else. Several weeks ago, the BOS asked the Transportation Advisory Commission to report back by mid September 2012 on what they see as the best tax increase options for infrastructure improvements. As to Tysons, the Planning Commission Tysons Commitee hopes to complete its work in September 2012. To their credit, Commissioners have worked long and hard to evaluate implementation plans and funding options. However, it seems that some or most still want county taxpayers rather than landowners to pay for a majority (58%) of infrastructure costs - including 100% of transit costs - both capital and operating costs. This week the Strawman III plan was released showing the "value" of transit services to be $882 million. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/planning/tysons_docs/081512tysonsstrawman3strike.pdf
Steve L August 18, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I've already started using Route 7 and backtracking on the Dulles Access Road vis-a-vis a purchase at the gas station. As tolls go up, I'll just exercise those options more often.
Steve L August 18, 2012 at 06:22 PM
*(via)
Greendayer August 18, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I'll just take neighborhood roads. Lawyers Rd, Georgetown Pike, Beulah, Cottage. Why government wants to incent people to take neighborhood roads rather than throughways is silly.
Judith Andersen August 18, 2012 at 11:38 PM
In California, where tolls are high, toll roads are almost completely empty. Our own Greenway is empty. Can this be what the highway department is wanting?
Tax Pig August 19, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Sign the No Toll Increase Petition http://notollincrease.blogspot.com/p/sign-petition.html By signing this petition I am saying NO to skyrocketing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. I want Virginia to take control by putting the Toll Road users first instead of making them the cash cow for other projects. Stop strangling our roads and the region's economy with tolls and traffic congestion. I say NO TOLL INCREASE.
Don M. Boileau August 19, 2012 at 02:52 AM
When we lived in Fairfax Station, I could never figure out why Reston area residents had to pay tolls to get into DC when I did not have to pay such a toll. Now I live in Reston and cannot figure out why not only do I pay a toll for an even more crowded highway and then the authorities want me to pay a toll for that road plus another additional amount for the Metro line to bring people from DC, Maryland, Arlington, Alexandria, and the south part of the county so they can take Metro. Who benefits the most from the Silver Line? Not those of using the toll road which we have been paying for currently.
John Lovaas August 20, 2012 at 01:29 AM
MWAA is required to build rail to Dulles. The only resource they have to do so beyond things like airline gate fees is the Dulles Toll Road. The State of VA has given them almost nothing else. Governor McDonell with his supposed surplus is in a position to provide additional resources. Where is the failed VP candidate when we need him?
Rob Whitfield August 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM
John, given the lack of demonstrated feasibility of Dulles Rail -particularly Phase 2,Virginia has done all it should have. I previously posted this link about Virginia's contribution to Dulles Rail. According to Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, the value of the Dulles Toll Road and its projected revenue stream, estimated to be $4.4 billion, transferred to MWAA in late 2008 for $0.00, were valued in 2008 at $3.52 billion. http://www.datatrans.org/presentations/102011-DRPT-update.pdf MWAA's policy is to keep all airport revenues at the airports. Over $4 billion in capital improvements have been made in the last 20 years at Dulles alone. MWAA has committed to provide 4.1% of overall Dulles Rail capital costs in a 2007 agreement with localities and Virginia. MWAA claims that, under its existing airline agreements, no additional funding of Dulles Rail can be made from airline revenues. Have not checked with MWAA but additional revenue for rail could be created by increasing parking taxes at both National Reagan and Dulles plus concession fees for rental cars, retailers and other airport services. Existing airline and bond financing agreements may preclude any transfer of revenues from airports to the rail project. Airline passengers at Dulles are paying huge charges ($25+/pass) to help repay AeroTrain people mover financing costs. MWAA and Virginia have been unhelpful in providing facts about state fuel taxes by airlines at Dulles and Reagan.
Burt Rosenberg August 20, 2012 at 03:20 PM
These toll increases to fund projects (other than tollroad maintenance) are totally unconscionable and unacceptable! And, clearly, the MWAA process was unspeakable. They evidently reckon us to be passive sheep to be shorn. Well, are they right? Are we sheep?, just sighing & paying rising tolls? What can we do at this point? How about we pack that Reston hearing Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 from 5:00-8:00 p.m. at South Lakes High School Cafeteria? I know they envision it as a "show and tell" of their plans. But, how about we make our clear, vociferous objections strongly and vocally known there, yes? 11400 South Lakes Drive, Reston, VA 20191
Burt Rosenberg August 20, 2012 at 03:21 PM
The address at the bottom of my post is address of S. Lakes H.S.
Tammi Petrine August 20, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Increased toll scenario and its effects are clear: BIG tolls = #1: gridlock as drivers flee the fee. So the choices of new residents and all employers are to locate in a community that demands paying a stiff toll for access OR fighting gridlock... Who in their right minds will choose to keep current business or re-locate new businesses or purchase homes in such an area? Sure, a specific demographic of folk can live in the TOD (Transit Oriented Development) area immediately adjacent to Metro and use Metro for all of their transportation needs but that hardly supports a majority of people including ALL of the current residents of Reston/Herndon. BIG Tolls = #2: So when we go to sell our homes, who will want to purchase in an area that adds a commuting expense of $1,000 now and $8,000/year in the future vs an area where access via tolls is unnecessary??? The answer is obvious. The quality of our lives in Reston will degrade with traffic gridlock, pollution and lower housing prices for starters. With the allure of Reston waning, will employers look favorably on keeping or relocating in Reston? BIG tolls = #3 Fewer jobs and employers. BIG tolls = Fewer jobs = #4 fewer service industries, retail stores, etc. I think by now you get the picture of the dying golden goose. Do Restonians object to the perennially escalating, unfair, involuntary tolls for access to our beloved community, the only community in NOVA to have a tollway in the 1st place? YOU BETCHA.
Burt Rosenberg August 20, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Well stated, Tammi, and am in total agreement with your points. But the question at this point is, what are we going to do about it? Blogging and venting only go so far.
Tammi Petrine August 21, 2012 at 12:33 AM
EXCELLENT observation, Burt. To everyone who is mad and motivated: PLEASE join Reston 2020 so we have your contact info. We are planning to have a community meeting in the very near future to plan exactly WHAT we should and can be doing to make our fury known and to get results. To join, please go to our blog spot; my email address is there and we will add you to our rolls. You will be emailed as soon as we have a time and place.
No Toll Increase August 21, 2012 at 01:39 PM
There are multiple options for preventing this disaster. One lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the toll increases is to be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in October. Annother lawsuit may be possible on the basis of cheating the federal law requiring an analysis of the environmental impacts of teh toll avoidance, particularly on Rt. 7. VDOT can retake the toll road from MWAA, since it is MWAA's corruption and waste that have brought delays and driven the costs up. More info at www.notollincrease.org
Burt Rosenberg August 21, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Will email you, Tammi. Thanks.

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