.

Reston 2020: Current Phase 2 Plan Unfair

Some Restonians will bear brunt of Phase 2 costs, group says.

Terry Maynard of Reston Citizens Association's Reston 2020 will make a statement to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, who are

The meeting is at 5 p.m. at the Fairfax County Government Center.

Maynard will tell the Board of Supervisors that the current plan for Dulles Toll Road users to pay 75 percent of the Phase 2 costs is "grossly unfair" to some Restonians.

Here is his statement: 

Good evening honorable ladies and gentlemen of the Board, I am here this evening to speak on behalf of the Reston 2020 Committee, a committee comprising more than five dozen Restonians who seek to preserve and improve the quality of life in the Reston community. 

In pursuing that goal, we are enthusiastic about planning for well-reasoned economic growth in the Reston area, including the arrival of Metrorail and complementary well-balanced TOD development in its station areas.  

We believe, however, that the current plan to force Dulles Toll Road users to pay three-quarters of the cost of Phase 2 of Metrorail construction and 55 percent of the overall costs of the line’s construction is grossly unfair to a small group of Reston and Fairfax County residents and workers.

That includes the 20-25,000 trips by Restonians out of the roughly 140-160,000 toll road trips that begin or end in the county each day. 

In brief, your implementation of the current tripartite funding agreement means that Restonians and other county residents will end up paying about half of the $15 billion in MWAA Metrorail debt service obligations over four decades.   That $7-8 billion cost comes from hard earned household incomes.

It does not improve the driving experience of toll road users, represents a significant claim on their disposable income, and results in a significant loss in tax generating sales for the county and state. 

At the household level, regular toll road users will see their annual toll road costs rise from less than $1,000 now to more than $8,000 by 2048.  On a constant dollar basis, toll costs will still nearly quadruple.

In the end, every penny put in the toll basket is a penny that siphons the wealth of Fairfax residents with no benefit to them. 

It will also have a depressing effect on property values outside station areas since part of the added cost of tolls is money diverted from mortgages and rents paid by County residents.

It will also reduce local retail sales opportunities for businesses beyond the Metro station areas as nearby residents have less to spend.  Moreover, the state and county will lose sales tax revenues as toll revenues are pumped into MWAA bondholders’ hands. 

More disconcerting to Reston 2020 is the fact that the County has not made an independent effort to evaluate the consequences of these tremendous toll increases on County residents and coffers.  Besides the effects we identify above, we suspect that such an evaluation would show:

  • Large traffic diversion effects over the long term as tolls skyrocket and population and employment grows with no offsetting revenue sources to at least maintain County traffic standards.
  • Little increase in the percentage usage of public transit as former bus transit riders dominate Metrorail use.  In part, Metrorail use will be constrained by passenger capacity shortfalls and slow service to downtown.
  • Decreased demand for Dulles corridor area office and home real estate outside station areas as potential buyers see they can save thousands of dollars in commuting costs by buying elsewhere. 
  • Residential development near Metrorail stations dominated by high-end housing as property values there rise.  The resulting million dollar-plus condos will further undercut stated County policy to provide added workforce housing.

The fact that the County has not studied the county-wide systemic implications of its Metrorail funding agreement before or after it reached the tripartite agreement is a failure of due diligence and a tremendous dis-service to County residents and businesses. 

Until the County understands the full implications of its decision, it needs to postpone its approval of Phase 2 financing.  Not to do so would mean a failure to protect the interests of its current and future residents and businesses while benefitting a handful of developers near Metrorail stations. 

We believe that toll road users should pay no more than 25 percent of the total cost of the Silver Line as envisioned in the 2004 Federal Environmental Impact Statement.  Instead of quintupling tolls in the next 20 years, tolls might double and, in real terms, increase by a quarter or so.  That is a reasonable way to stimulate transit use and not seriously impede household wellbeing or county economic growth. 

We request the Board put the current tripartite “funding partners” agreement on hold until sufficient alternative funding for the Silver Line can be found.  To do otherwise is imprudent, impractical, and unjust. 

Michael Sanio March 22, 2012 at 02:28 AM
The Metro Extension can be a benefit to all Restonians. Getting the financing of the Metro expansion right is critical. Higher tolls, can mean more traffic in Reston on local roads. Have you driven on Reston Parkway at rush hour lately?
Bob Bruhns March 22, 2012 at 01:35 PM
If this region is going to be some magical utopia, then let's demonstrate its COMPETENCE, for a change, and do this thing RIGHT. It is manifestly obvious that the plan is a disaster right now. Don't just approve a bad plan - FIX IT! Step 1: Hold off, do not jump blindly into this bad agreement. Step 2: Fix the problems in this bad agreement. The basic cost is two times what it should be; the burden of funding is on the wrong shoulders; the projections of revenues are defective; the routing design of the rail can be much better and much less expensive at the airport. Step 3: Discuss the real plan, when those blunders have been corrected. Do not create artificial emergencies to stampede the people of this supposed economic utopia into a plan as bad as this present Dulles Rail Phase II plan. Do not pretend that oh, the sky will fall, if this plan is not immediately approved. Let those who benefit the most, pay the most. If this rail line is going to be so wonderful for this region that the landowners in the rail station zones are looking at exploding business activity and billions of dollars of property value increases, then let them pay for most of the cost of the job. If they do not believe in the value of this rail line, then why should toll road drivers and taxpayers be burdened with it?
The BSD Guy May 11, 2012 at 05:44 PM
This project needs to be investigated by the FBI. There is not and never has been any "magical money" that would simply start falling out of the sky once the county's precious and VERY, VERY SPECIAL INTEREST, the land development community. went on yet another development binge funded by everyone except them. We've been hearing misguided and erroneous "predictions" of development based "utopia" from the same old "economic genius" time and time again. Just exactly how many incorrect predictions does one need to make before his/her opinions are thrown in the trash bin where they belong. Since he is, however, paid off .... errr, I mean "funded" by a commercial real estate and development group the county and all its residents must fail in line and accept the obvious. If I were Loudoun county, I would take his predictions and put them in the garbage can where they belong. What is occurring and has been occurring in this area since the late '90s is flat out fraud. This project and all its economic sideshows have been nothing but a developers money making scheme funded by gullibles, taxpayers, and the Federal Government. ... and now the county has an "official" wandering the Reston area declaring that residents need to be kicked out of their neighborhoods because, in his high and mighty opinion, they need redevelopment. It seems the poor, Wall Street backed billionaire elite developers just don't have enough money.

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