RCA Calls MWAA Public Hearings 'a Sham'

Citizens' group says Metro does not really want to hear public input on toll increases.

 "are a sham" and a marketing exercise.

MWAA has scheduled three area hearings, including one on Sept. 12 at to collect citizen feedback on planned increases for the Dulles Toll Road that will help finance Metro's Silver Line, currently under construction.

RCA says MWAA should call the meetings a "public show and tell."

“RCA is deeply disappointed in MWAA’s cynical plan to give the appearance of soliciting public comment without any of the substance,” RCA President Colin Mills said in a statement. “Even though MWAA claims to be interested in hearing the public’s opinion, MWAA’s plan for the hearings does not lay out a clear agenda, and seems more like a forum for the public to walk through and, at best, ask MWAA staffers questions one‐on‐one. These meetings are ‘public hearings’ in name only.”

Tammi Petrine, an RCA Board member and co‐chair of its Reston 2020 Committee calls MWAA's board "ethically challenged."

“The ethically challenged MWAA Board of Directors, a public entity, seems to believe it can avoid dealing with the public," she said in a statement. "It thinks these annual displays of MWAA’s progress are sufficient to keep the public informed and at bay. The Board, in particular, has shown  no indication that it is prepared, much less wishes, to deal with a public outraged with the forecast tripling of tolls over the next six years, and more later.”"

Gene August 29, 2012 at 06:21 PM
There is no logical reason why the users of DTR should pay for Metro. It's pretty obvious that we who use it and continue to use it when the rates increase are not using Metro. This country needs to get back to what is fair in everything we do, not what is expedient or convenient. Some of us remember the promise that tolls would go away when the cost to build DTR was paid for. Then to add insult they are ruining our community in Reston with greedy and out of control development and now they have added a monthly fee for each toll pass - at least on that one I can get one from Delaware without no monthly fee. Bottom line is some of us are fed up, hoping the property values continue to rise long enough to find somewhere else to live and work besides this mess they are creating that we the taxpayers cannot seem to stop.
the-stix August 29, 2012 at 06:56 PM
To whom will your petition be sent and how are they mandated to act?
Rob Whitfield August 29, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Gene is correct. For those who don't know, WMATA will operate the Silver Line of the Metrorail system. Former Governor Kaine devised the Dulles Rail capital plan, with help from Mame Reiley. MWAA is responsible for building the project but the funding plan was never approved in a public process. Over the last decade, the WMATA Board has refused to raise Metrorail fares for existing passengers to provide any funds for the now estimated $13.3 billion in replacement costs for the original 103 mile Metrorail system, let alone any funds to build Dulles Rail. The Kaine scheme shifted all the project risk and most costs to DTR users. So far, WMATA riders are not obligated to pay for a nickel of capital costs and expect us to pay ongoing massive subsidies. I was pro transit and rail to Dulles. Most people living in this area over twenty years recall that Metrorail was once among the best heavy rail transit systems in the US. When I became aware of the apparent fraud by rail proponents and true potential costs of building and operating the Silver Line, I started asking questions which involve $$ billions of our money not "penny wise stuff." Most questions have never been answered. The WMATA Board has done nothing to demonstrate that they have the ability to run even the present 106 mile Metrorail system efficiently and safely, yet alone handle the Silver Line. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/mar/26/metro-derailed-by-culture-of-complacence-incompete/?page=al
No Toll Increase August 29, 2012 at 07:34 PM
The petition doesn't mandate anyone to do anything. We are using it to show elected officials that their constituents are very concerned about tolls. Our elected officials need to be held accountable for continuing to allow MWAA to waste our tolls. Virginia can issue bonds for less than half of the interest rate MWAA is getting- that translates to billions of dollars wasted already on Phase 1 bonds.
Navid Roshan August 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
What what else would you like to scapegoat on the MWAA and Silver line. My god people are you reading what you are writing about. You want to blame someone for these issues, THEN FIND OUT WHO IS TO BLAME! 1) VDOT, through an order by Governor "I used to be from Nova" McDonnell issued the $1 dollar transponder fee in order to pay for toll elements of the HOT lane projects. Jeeeesus 2) Rob Operations of rail and construction of rail HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH EACH OTHER. WMATA in no way wanted to expanded its current boundaries. They agreed to take over operation of the silver line if it was constructed with funds outside of WMATA. They have no obligation to build anything. The airport authority took on this responsibility as the silver line clearly improves access to Dulles. PS NO metro at all would have been built if this didnt occur, and the congestion on the toll road and spill over onto local roads would have been even worse, but lets not let things like REALITY dissuade your point of view of course. Therefore, the rail was funded via private with minimal public funds. The majority of public funds came from feds through shovel ready on phase 1. Why? because our state government was taken over by Anti-Agenda 21 nut jobs who think that anything that creates alternatives to driving cars is an international conspiracy theory. Politically, funding of transit is IMPOSSIBLE in this regime with public funds
Navid Roshan August 29, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Therefore, the funding was gathered from whatever sources possible to build this 22 mile system (the biggest expansion in the history of the WMATA system btw). This mostly leaned on private commercial taxes on developers, very little public funds from Fairfax, and even less from Loudoun and Virginia. Beyond this, money had to be found. So they used bonds. Your very point that the bonds could be replaced by the state SHOWS how ridiculously counter transit our state government has become. YES of course this could be done, public bonds will have much lower rates. BUT how can MWAA do anything about that? They asked for more public support, they didnt get it from Virginia. If you have problems with that you should be raising hell and demanding more support from McDonnell. Instead of circulating a petition against a board who has no power over the decision, question why 500 million in surplus, 50% of which came from Northern Virginia, is not being provided back to us northern virginians from Richmond? We are returned back 19 cents on the dollar from Richmond currently. Only 20 years ago that ratio was 55 cents on the dollar. We get back 4 TIMES less per dollar paid, and the reason its not being corrected is because the Governor has done well at scape goating "unions" and MWAA as the problem for implied cost over runs, when really it is the lack of support from our own government which is causing all of these problems. Think people
Navid Roshan August 29, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Bob have you ever worked in contracting and cost estimation? Do you know why the lines are redacted? Not to hide anything from you, to hide it from contractors. If you tell contractors how much your cost estimate in house is, then guess what, they will bid exactly that amount. Its common sense. In fact the largest contributing cost increase to this project will likely be the massive amount of information thats already been put out about the cost. If they had simply put it out as a bid design build it would have been FAR less costly, but instead they had to jump through loops to appease the penny wise crowd, thereby increasing the system of the contract.
Navid Roshan August 29, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Mmk Bob, Don't hold your breath for those riots any time soon. If they dont work in DC or Tysons then don't take the toll road. You can take the brand new 8 lane route 7 that is being built just to appease you for $500 million. Why no outcry over that cost? No fear over how much it will send our county into economic peril!? Hmmmmmm I wonder. Its called traffic equilibrium, some will come off the toll road, but guess what, when roads jam up, some of those people will go back to the toll road. Either way you are whining about a 1 dollar increase to go the entire length of the toll road from the green way. Waaaaaaah I dont wanna pay for things I use. No one is complaining about 495 HOT starting at 2 times that cost at best with congestion pricing. Would you prefer the DTR be changed to congestion pricing, because I think you would be much less happy with Lexus lanes Bob
Rob Whitfield August 29, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Navid, you live in a fantasy anti-autombile world. Enough of your drivvel. Dulles Toll Road users are being forced by an agreement for which no public hearing was ever held to contribute almost $1.3 billion of the projected Phase 1 $2.9 billion capital cost. The fed share is $900 million. Phase 1 tax district commercial land owners contributed only $400 million. Tysons residents have contributed $0.00 to Dulles Rail except their pro-rata share of Phase 1 federal and state contributions. Restonians should know that Navid lives and works in Tysons Corner. He and most of his neighbors have little reason to care that we will pay $17 billion in tolls over the next 50 years so that he and his friends from DC and Arlington County can ride a subsidized rail project on the backs of Restonians. The Kaine Administration gave away the Dulles Toll Road, a valuable state asset valued in 2008 at $3.52 billion, for no monetary consideration. Bob McDonnell inherited a huge mess. Agreed, he and most politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, have done little to help us. If you think WMATA did not want Dulles Rail, please provide us the evidence. MWAA and its Dulles Rail partners have failed repeatedly to evaluate funding and financing alternatives. I have suggested a non-partisan oversight committee to evaluate options and propose solutions to this and other Dulles Corridor transportation needs Navid's ideas are here: http://greatergreaterwashington.org/nroshan/
Navid Roshan August 30, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Thanks for the free publicity. What you also didn't mention is that Tysons land owners will be paying a significant portion of the Route 7 expansion which runs parallel to the toll road, which if you dont like the toll road or silver line or georgetown pike, you can take. I have driven Route 7 plenty. Compared to Route 66, 95, the beltway, and 123 it is a dream, but there you have it, you guys complained and won so you are getting a brand new arterial highway built for you. WMATA's policies specifically stated they had no intention of funding expansions on a system that they are currently trying to overhaul for safety, hence why WMATA was in no way a part of this expansion. I dont speak for WMATA though, in fact I have spoken against them in nearly a half dozen articles of my own for their lack of a master plan on capital projects. Either way, your complaints towards MWAA are without merit. The audit showed no issues with the current cost estimates. The only element that has come in question is WHY so much of the project is being funded by private bonds when it would be far more affordable over the next 50 years to have public bonds with our AAA standing... of course this goes back to my central point that the responsible party to blame is our state house which returns back 19 cents on the dollar of our tax money... big government at its worst coming from the GOP I hope your blue ribbon committee finds something that the audit on MWAA didnt.
Rob Whitfield August 30, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Navid, in over one year my non-partisan oversight committee proposal has had no response from politicians. As to your claim that Tysons landowners will pay for a "significant portion of Route 7 improvements," how do you define significant? 10%, 20%, 30% of total costs? If adopted in accordance with Strawman III provisions, the proposed Tysons infrastructure implementation plan, particularly the circulator plan, will put Fairfax County taxpayers on the hook for vastly greater funding amounts than will be Tysons landowners. Some (most?) Tysons residential property owners want an exemption from any obligations to the proposed service tax district. Nuts!! Have you ever looked at a map? Route 7 runs northwest-southeast; the Dulles Toll Road and Silver Line run east-west. As to suggesting that, compared to I-66, I-95, the Capital Beltway and Route 123, Route 7 "is a dream," when did you last travel Route 7 inbound in the morning peak period? The traffic nightmare will worsen next year when DTR tolls increase. Many more commuters will divert off Route 7 through Great Falls on Route 193, through McLean via Lewinsville Road, through Vienna via Beulah, Lawyers and Old Courthouse Road and other minor roads. As to Route 7 improvements, the section being widened during the near term is inside Tysons Corner. Funding for widening Route 7 between Reston and Dulles Toll Road is still to be determined. VDOT is considering a transitway instead of an additional vehicular lane.
Rob Whitfield August 30, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I have been actively involved in MWAA meetings and elsewhere on Dulles Rail issues for over a decade. As to "your complaints towards MWAA are without merit," my complaint is not with MWAA project management and engineers, some who I have known since 2005. Phase 1 is being completed on schedule and close to the amended $2.9 billion budget - with an excellent safety record. The problem continues to be MWAA's Board, dominated by members who do not live in Virginia and are not accountable to Virginian taxpayers. The lack of public involvement was the plan of former Governor Tim Kaine and Mame Reiley, the MWAA Board Chairman in 2005 to 2007. The Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee is controlled by heavy rail boosting local politicians who have deliberately avoided asking tough questions about financing alternatives and rail ridership potential, revenues, costs and operating deficits to be paid by taxpayers. Until 2012, the DCAC was chaired and controlled by MWAA. Fairfax County Chair Sharon Bulova is the 2012 Chair. Only one DCAC meeting has been held so far in 2012. I too wanted Virginia to use its credit to enhance the credtworthiness of the Dulles Toll Road revenue bonds. My understanding is that, for revenue bonds, bond investors look solely to the source of revenue for repayment and not to the political entity, whether local or state. Funding options not reliant on Dulles Toll Road tolls exist but our politicians refuse to consider them. We need to change that.
Navid Roshan August 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM
To that point I dont disagree. I have never supported any Maryland votes on a board that has nothing to do with them. I have also never supported so few votes for Virginia. But most of the comments on this thread are literally blaming MWAA for things that they have no control over. Toll rates will have to be what they will have to be unless you find a a couple hundred million elsewhere. To say that a 1 dollar increase will somehow send this area into riots or shut down all of our other road options is ridiculous. Thats not how traffic works, and if that is the fear then why is this not being stated for the other toll options (of which plenty of tax money is going towards in 495HOT and 95) as these are going to make the DTR look cheap in comparison. Thats right, because McDonnell and the republicans LIKE that toll road, and HATE the DTR. The fight is against a state that has forgot its economic engine, not against a board which had no choice over it. Either way, I agree we need more Virginian control over MWAA, but that won't change a single damn thing about the toll increases, so its almost ridiculous to bring it up in this conversation.
Navid Roshan August 30, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Also why in gods name SHOULD people in Tysons Corner have to pay for a road widening for people to continue to come into Tysons and take jobs but live unsustainably far out in Loudoun County? What kind of justice of fairness is that? Beyond the regular taxes that DEVELOPERS will be paying which are already elevated to pay for a large portion of Silver Line Phase 1, developers and tysons residents will be in charge of paying for 10% of Route 7 improvements outside of Tysons Corner, and 90% of Route 7 improvements inside of Tysons Corner, based on the current Strawman III. The fact that I as a resident who has chosen to be sustainable, has to pay anything beyond my normal tax share (10% of the Route 7 outside of tysons) is ridiculous and a travesty, but is the cost of my choice to live in what I believe will be the single most important land use decision we have made in our generation.
Gene August 30, 2012 at 07:56 PM
Some of us remember whne Tysons was a strip mall with a Lums Hot Dog Resturant and Rt. 123/RT7 Intersection was a stop sign, Tysons was in the boonies as the saying goes. And some of us who had worked our way up the Corprate ladder remember suggesting to other Corporate officers that continuing to build a large campus in Tysons was not communtiy friendly nor good for recruiting good talent, Instead suggesting smaller dispersed campuses would be a better solution - that not only got no traction it became a black mark against further advancement, So don't ask the poeple who have to drive into Tyson's, ask the corporations who have built all of the offices there and require the employees to commute, ask the government clients who want thier contractors close by or on-site. And lastly what do your think Tysons would be like if it was not for all those companies? Do you really think the shopping center foot the bill or make a compelling reason for all the planned metro stops? As for fairness, I suspect the vast majority of the initial users of the Whiele station will be residents of Loudon, Clarke, or even Frederick county.
Rob Whitfield August 30, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Navid, please stop using blasphemy in your posts. MWAA and other Dulles Rail partners have had various funding options but have ignored them for unknown reasons. In summer 2011, I proposed revising the 1987 (amended circa 2003) federal lease agreement with MWAA for Reagan National and Dulles International Airports as a means to provide $1 billion to $1.5 billion in federal LOANS (not GRANTS) towards the Dulles Rail project. No response has ever been offered from MWAA, legislators and government officials to whom I provided this suggestion. Given the fiscal crisis and the economic outlook in Virginia, additional state funding is not realistic. Besides, Virginia has already provided over $3.5 billion through the free transfer of the DTR to MWAA. If the political will existed to see Dulles as an international gateway with national significance, then the President and Congress could enact lease changes this year. It appears that the airlines do not trust either MWAA or the federal government to make an amended agreement that does not greatly increase their costs. With loan term federal loans available for under 3%, our politicians should act now. My efforts to obtain complete or even summary facts on the amounts of state jet fuel taxes paid by airlines operating at Dulles and Reagan National airports have been fruitless. It appears that lobbyists or other influence groups do not want the public to know details of deals that may have existed for more than 25 years
Rob Whitfield August 30, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I meant to say "long term federal loans" are available under 3%. TIFIA Interest Rate is 2.73% for a 35-year loan as of Thursday, August 30, 2012. Stop the rubbish about Tysons landowners taxes " elevated to pay for a large portion of Silver Line Phase 1." At most, Tysons landowners are providing $340 million plus interest costs to the Phase 1 rail tax district over a 25 year period. As I recall the Phase 1 tax district will expire circa 2033, after which Tysons landowners have agreed to allocate the $0.22 (going to $0.29?) per $100 of assessed value towards Tysons improvements. It is unclear as to what portion of "Commerical and Insustrial" tax district funds, $0.11 per $100 assessed value, are raised and used within Tysons. Growing concern exists in Reston and elsewhere that Tysons landowners will suck up most available County bonding capacity in coming years which would leave little or no bonding funds for infrastructure capital needs elsewhere in the County. Navid, why should the taxpayers of Fairfax County provide ANY of the projected $3+ billion in infrastructure costs to improve access to and within Tysons in the next 30 to 40 years? Landowners there stand to gain between $5 and $10 billion in increased land value over this decade as a result of deals made by our Board of Supervisors, some or most of whom received election campaign contributions between 2005 and 2012, in return for granting unlimited development densities around transit stations.
Navid Roshan August 31, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Stop your own rhetoric. By calling the "Tysons" infrastructure 3 billion dollars shows how biased you truly are. The costs within Tysons when removing outside infrastructure such as Route 7 fall to 2 billion, 400 million of which is grid of street construction that will be built by developers, and 500 million of which is for transit that connects OTHER areas to Tysons, not within Tysons. That comes out to 1.1 billion NOT 3 billion. When you start telling the truth to people I might stop arguing with you. PS what about the regular tax funds that will be coming from Tysons development on the order of 150 million every YEAR (outside of the tax district special assessment). Why dont you tell people that? That over 30 years (dumbest term period because it makes every number huge) comes out to 4.5 BILLION dollars in today's terms and doesn't even include the idea that assessed value rates would go up as Tysons becomes more of a city.
Tammi Petrine September 01, 2012 at 06:27 AM
Navid, I suspect we at 2020 agree with many of your points. Our concern is NOT about a $1 toll increase. It is about 40 YEARS of escalating, abusive tolls that will absolutely negatively affect Reston, the place we love and call home as well as all parts of the Dulles Corridor. I have attended dozens and dozens of meetings on the DTR and met personally with MWAA's CFO with other RCA Reston 2020 colleagues and other officials in efforts to create OTHER funding options. Absolutely, you are correct that Gov. McDonnell has not agreed to any further funding which is, in my opinion, cutting off his nose to spite his face. But his non-renewable term is only 6 years total so the damage will come to light when he is no longer in office and accountable. And perhaps, he will change his mind. But we need to do more than cross our fingers and pray for a miracle. Legitimate public input and planning have been lacking throughout this exercise. We know this and do not intend to quietly retreat and watch degradation of our community without a fight. You seem like a bright and articulate fellow; would you like to join Reston 2020 and share your ideas? We welcome all views in our work to make Reston and our neighboring communities the best that they can be. If so, please go to our Reston 2020 for further information. We will be having a meeting Oct. 10th in the evening. Anyone else who is interested is also invited. Thank you! T. Petrine Co-Chair, Reston 2020
Rob Whitfield September 01, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Tammi, thanks for your comments. Agreed, the long term toll increase impacts concerns us most, particularly after 2015 when the deferred interest accrual on some bonds already issued by MWAA will kick in. Governor McDonnell's term is only four years. We already know what will happen to tolls thanks to traffic and revenue studies by MWAA's own consultant CDM Smith (formerly Wilbur Smith.) As Terry Maynard and others have shown, tolls will be massively higher if Dulles Rail funding is via more MWAA BBB rated bonds. The average interest rate on the $1.3 billion in bonds issued by MWAA in 2009 and 2010 is over 6% - versus the under 3% available from high credit rated entities such as federal and state governments. Virginia has already provided more than a reasonable share of Dulles Rail capital by virtue of its donation of the Dulles Toll Road and its revenue stream to MWAA, valued in 2008 at $3.52 billion. By contrast, in direct contradiction to provisions of the 1969 WMATA compact, WMATA and its Metrorail riders have contributed nothing to capital costs and continue to demand more funds from federal and state governments to subsidize the existing 106 mile poorly managed Metrorail system. As to Navid's Tysons tax revenue forecast, he should post links to recent Planning Commission Tysons Committee forecasts with ALL assumptions made. The near term office market outlook is dismal. Commercial property values are likely to decline in the next several years.
Rob Whitfield September 01, 2012 at 10:57 AM
My office market comments are based on my over thirty years experience in commercial and residential real estate in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. In areas near Silver Line transit stations, some residential property value appreciation may be expected sooner than 2015, depending on disposable household income trends which result from the impacts of the fiscal cliff, taxmageddon and health care tax reforms. As to commercial office markets, huge uncertainty exists today. The potential severity of sequestration or other federal budget cut measures imposed in 2013 on local employment and prospective office space demand is as yet unknown. One measure of office market weakness: The assessed values for land at many office zoned properties in western Fairfax County, including most near Wiehle Avenue Metro station, are less in 2012 than they were in 2002.
Navid Roshan September 01, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I totally agree with you, commercial expansion in this region, beyond companies wanting to increase their footprint, is not a wise proposition. Expanding residential dense development is very much, and has the added benefit of spurring retail innovation, reducing the exorbitant COL in Fairfax, and reducing traffic by providing horizontal expansion in outlet back towards our commercial business districts. This is what Fairfax is focusing on more than residential, and this is what is being proven as VERY effective in occupancy. Regardless, empty building, full building, they both pay taxes at their assessed value and occupancy rate makes very little difference to what it is worth. As long as the public is not funding these buildings (which of course is not the case) and that money from immediate infrastructure is being paid for by developers (which of course is the case) then any "increased user" costs will correlate directly to increased value and therefore continued proffered special tax revenue. You can't on one hand say a building will be empty and not generate value, and on the other say the building will be full and needs transportation funding.
Navid Roshan September 01, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Either way, this is all tangential. The base point is that the DTR will be usurped as the economic driver of this area by the silver line. That is a good thing. Someone else pointed out that with the rising price people will start using side roads to get around. The majority of the trips are east-west going to job centers, very few people for instance live in Ashburn and work in a retail service store randomly in Fairfax. Why? Because that person if they work in retail service, could likely find the same job in Ashburn instead. When people travel from Loudoun into Fairfax it is for corporate jobs specifically. Corporate jobs exist at corporate hubs. Corporate hubs will have direct access on the Dulles Corridor. 120,000 people work in tysons, even more in Arlington, even more in DC. A very large number also work in Reston, and Ashburn. The argument against DTR toll rates shouldn't be that it is punishing Dulles Corridor users (as there will be better options than the toll road) but that they are cutting off their own funding source via a better system. That is something that is VERY real, and that is much more worrisome. I think the user estimates are FAR smaller than they really will be, and that DTR revenue will plummet very early on more from this than from the actual toll rate.
Navid Roshan September 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
And of course, this is just another argument against financing this infrastructure via the toll road. Politically this all goes back to the concept created. Turn the toll road private, then create a public improvement from that. That was stupid and far more risky than if Virginia had just sacked up (both parties Kaine is to blame too, but the GOP was really the obstruction of this concept and made it political suicide for Kaine if he had gone through with it) and funded the improvement whole heatedly. The project would have cost Virginia 2.8 billion over 5 years. Yes that sounds like a big number, but seeing as this year alone the state had a half billion dollar surplus, and that the biggest source of revenue for the state is from this region, and that the biggest source of revenue from this region is this corridor, it is a TRAVESTY that Virginia stepped aside. It is still a travesty that only 300 million from the State will come to this project (regardless of the fact that they donated the toll road operations as you said to a private company).
Tammi Petrine September 01, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Navid and others, please come to Reston 2020's next meeting on Monday, Sept 10, 7PM to share your ideas. Lots of research we have done and statistical analyses can be shared and options discussed. Meeting details and location will be posted shortly on our blog: Reston 2020.blogspot.com. or just Google "Reston 2020."
Terry Maynard September 02, 2012 at 09:18 PM
The Reston 2020 meeting will be held at RA headquarters. As Tammi says, it will be on September 10 at 7PM. We welcome all inputs.
Rob Whitfield September 03, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Recall that the article's theme was that RCA called the Dulles Toll Road toll increase public hearings "a sham." They are. MWAA has repeatedly failed to explore tolling options such as time of day pricing and free 3 person carpools which were permitted under a General Assembly bill passed a decade ago but never implemented. They are "studying" open road tolling which would facilitate variable toll pricing. Because MWAA's Board is controlled by inside the Beltway members, it has refused to study more equitable Dulles Rail funding arrangements. For the Tysons message poster, Dulles Toll Road users have already paid over $1 billion in tolls since 1984 -with our after tax money. The diversion of toll road funds by MWAA for an infeasible heavy rail project is an illegal tax by a body that does not have taxing authority. The present rail funding plan was never approved by a political body such as the General Assembly or Congress. No evidence has been offered to show that: "The majority of the trips are east-west going to job centers." Nor is there evidence to support the claim that: "The project would have cost Virginia 2.8 billion over 5 years." In summer 2005, then under Governer Mark Warner, five proposals to privatize the Dulles Toll Road were made to VDOT under the public private partnership state law. Within a month of Tim Kaine being elected Governor in November 2005, the existing proposals being considered were ignored in favor of a MWAA takeover.
Navid Roshan September 03, 2012 at 12:57 PM
There is currently a massive plate tracking operation to determine exactly where everyone drives in that corridor by VDOT. Beyond that, you gotta be kidding me. OF COURSE the traffic is east-west to job locations. People dont wake up at 7 am to just go for a leisurely drive. A person has to simply look at where the jobs are (Reston, Tysons, Arlington, DC in that order) and where people live (Tysons, Reston, Ashburn in that order) to figure out that people from outer suburbs in mass drive east each morning and stop either at Reston (less likely) Tysons (more likely) Arlington/DC (very likely) to know that is exactly the toll pattern. Or you could just drive the toll road, which is what I did for 4 years when I lived in Herndon and see that the extremely congested road stayed congested atleast to 495, and very much to 123 where many got off because of HOV requirements on 66. I totally agree that the MWAA privatization has likely ended up as a bad decision, but then again I DONT. As you said it would have required state approval. The state is a socialist body which is returning 19 cents on the dollar to NOVA and disapproves of all things mass transit (see the Norfolk light rail). If you think the Silver line was penny wise pound foolish under the approved plan... lets just say it would likely be a bus line if it were up to the GOP in Richmond
Gene September 03, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The problem is that the entire area needs to be involved to solve commuter issues, the biggest offender is the Federal Government since that is what drives the vast majority of the business growth the area has seen. Time and again the feds force large campus mentality instead of dispersed smaller campuses. I would also suggest that the area on each side of the toll road from Whiele Ave to Rt. 28 probably employs as many people or close to it as you find in Tysons. And for tysons there is a danegrous trend towards vacating the area for areas west. Community leaders need to team with business leaders to plan for this growth, not politicians, and it needs to include open input from taxpayers. Input from those considering moving to the area is less useful than those that alerady liver, work, and pay taxes here it's our community. Greedy developers need to be put in check, every time you hear public/private partnership dig deeper and find out the real story. Sorry for the Rant - Gene
Rob Whitfield September 03, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The business community has mostly sat on its hands on Dulles Rail issues and toll increases during the last four years. AAA Mid Atlantic and the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce made known their opposition to the toll funding plan last month. Thanks to them. Most businesses seem to have been guided by local Chambers of Commerce rail project boosters without regard to potential adverse economic and fiscal impacts of the present rail funding plan. Last year I asked the heads of Greater Reston Chamber, Dulles Area Chamber and Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce to state publicly what level of toll increases they support to pay for Dulles rail. None of them responded. I sat next to Kurt Krause, current Chairman of the Loudoun County Chamber Board at a lunch meeting several months ago. We agreed on most issues that we discussed until I asked Kurt: "What level of toll increases does the Loudoun Chamber support?" He responded: "We don't have to answer that question." In a way he is correct. It should be for MWAA and our politicians to be held accountable but it hardly demonstrates leadership by the business community. Fed workers account for over 40% of peak period Metrorail riders, which is likely why WMATA abolished the "peak of the peak" fares this summer. The WMATA Board, like the MWAA Board, has zero public accountability. Recent MWCOG studies show that Metrorail is likely to serve only 20% of commuters. Their study showed only 8% of Restonians use transit presently.


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