The Reston Citizens Association is urging Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell to use the $150 million it has pledged to help pay for construction of Phase 2 of the Silver Line as a down payment on the capital construction costs rather than as payments against interest on MWAA revenue bonds needed to finance the rail line extension.
In a letter to McDonnell, RCA President Colin Mills says "in using the $150 million to help pay down the interest payments on MWAA’s forthcoming revenue bonds for the Silver Line’s Phase 2, the payments will contribute much less than $50 million—maybe as little as $30 million—to Phase 2’s overall $3 billion capital cost.”
Mills calls for the State of Virginia to use the $150 million dollars—payable in three annual $50 million increments—as capital payments for the construction while Phase 2 of the line is being built. By reducing the debt needed on Phase 2 by $150 million, it would lower the total bond payment cost to Dulles Toll Road users by more than $500 million—more than $300 million after 3 percent inflation—over the next four decades. That is a far more cost-effective application of state transportation funds, RCA says.
The entire text of the letter is a PDF attached to this article.
Terry Maynard, Reston 2020 and RCA Board of Directors member says the group's concern is that the state and MWAA will raise toll rates - which is not a good long-term solution.
“Our concern is that the state and especially MWAA will prefer to use the $150 million to incrementally increase toll rates in the very short term without regard to the most cost-effective solution," said Maynard. "While the MWAA approach— which is being considered by its Board of Directors — has a great political optic in preventing tolls from doubling to $4.25 one-way next year, applying the $150 million as a down payment on Phase 2 could save toll road users hundreds of millions more over the longer term by applying them to pay construction costs.
"Moreover, the MWAA stair-step toll increase approach still means that toll rates will triple to $6.75 in 2018 as planned. Why wouldn’t Virginia and MWAA want the scarce funds to have their maximum impact? To do otherwise wastes taxpayer money and hurts toll road users more.”
Reston2020 co-chair Tammi Petrine says reducing toll increases is of "utmost importance."
“The place to start is to do the right thing now with state funding," she said. "That means taking a longterm view in maximizing any reduction in the projected nearly nine-fold increase in tolls on the 80,000 Northern Virginians who use the Dulles Toll Road daily. Virginia and MWAA have to stop playing political games and use public funds in a responsible manner that will most ease the huge costs toll road users face."