Citizens came to in Reston Wednesday night to talk about tolls and there were plenty of people there from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) there to listen.
Wednesday night's event was the second of three public meetings organized by the group that oversees the Dulles Toll Road and the construction of the Metrorail's Silver Line.
But will public opinion be enough to slow the rise in toll road rates?
Under the toll rate proposal, the combined main plaza and ramp tolls, currently $2.25 for 2-axle vehicles, would increase to $2.75 in 2013, $3.50 in 2014 and $4.50 in 2015 in order to help fund the construction of the Silver Line Phase 2.
Advocacy group Reston2020 predicts tolls for area motorists will be $6.75. However, MWAA CEO Jack Potter says not so fast—through targeted government lobbying and finding alternate funding solutions, MWAA may be able to put the brakes on rising tolls and still get Phase 2 from Wiehle Avenue to Loudoun County built.
"We are going to focus on solutions," Potter told a citizen who told him he found rising toll rates "unacceptable."
"That is the No. 1 thing we can do. We are going to focus on how we can get better financing rates. We are going to lobby the federal government to get more TIFIA [Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act] Funds," Potter said.
Terry Maynard of Reston2020 has done extensive research on the topic of rising tolls. He wants MWAA to work to get the Toll Road users' share down to 25 percent of costs - about half of the current forecast.
"If they can't get there, then they shouldn't build Phase 2," he said.
Reston's Robert Dobkin filled out a comment form at the meeting. (MWAA is also collecting comments on its website.) Dobkin says he takes alternate routes whenever he can to avoid paying the toll. He predicts he—as well as thousands of other drivers—will do the same if rates continue to rise.
"I am just offended that the funding of the Silver Line has been put on the backs of the commuters," he said. "They should think about the users - and get costs down. The effort should be led by Virginia's members of Congress and the Senate. It's not too late."
There will be a final open house-style meeting on Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Spring Hill Elementary School, 8201 Lewinsville Road, McLean.
Comments and questions will be put into a comment report that will be published at www.mwaa.com/tollroad in late October. After that, a recommendation will be made to the MWAA Board of Directors for action later this year.