By William Callahan
Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield) is once again calling for the state and county governments to look into how selling air rights above the Dulles Toll Road could fight rising toll prices from Phase 2 of Metro's Silver Line.
Gov. Bob McDonnell announced last week that Virginia officials were looking into potential developments over I-66 in Rosslyn and East Falls Church in conjunction with Arlington County and Herrity says it’s proof that air rights could be a viable revenue stream.
“Dulles toll road users are on the hook for over $2 billion to pay for metro to Dulles,” Herrity said. “Proceeds from air rights could go a long way to reduce the projected burden on toll road users and protect the health of this critical economic corridor.
Phase 1 of the Silver Line, which will run from Tysons Corner to Reston's Wiehle Avenue, is slated to open this winter. Phase 2, which recived no federal funding, is estimated to open in 2018. It will run from Wiehle to Dulles International Airport and into Ashburn.
In Arlington, developers would pay to lease the air space above the Metro stations – the air rights – in order to construct their buildings, and the money would go toward improving transportation.
“By leasing airspace above certain transportation facilities owned by the Commonwealth, we can better utilize our existing infrastructure to generate additional revenues to fund future transportation improvements, while at the same time attracting new jobs and economic development,” McDonnell said in his announcement. “Additionally, by co-locating these potential developments around existing Metro stations and other major transportation facilities, we can reduce congestion and create more livable communities.”
VDOT has issued a request for information (RFI) to the private sector to gather input on how best to proceed and how feasible the plan is.
Officials have located possible development sites for both Rosslyn and East Falls Church, where mixed-use developments could hold office space, residential and retail units and more.
According to the governor’s office, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation generated $40 million in FY 2011 through leases, with long-term lease income projected at $868 million.
"The partners responsible for this RFI obviously see the value in air rights with their statement today, and see their feasibility in Northern Virginia," Herrity said. "We should be exploring similar options along the Dulles Toll Road corridor.”
Tell Us: Do you think leasing air space over the Dulles Toll Road would work? Let us know in the comments.