New Warning Sign for Commuters: Dulles Tolls Rising
Many commuters in Northern Virginia know the frustration of the Dulles Toll Road, with its heavy traffic and ever-increasing tolls. Adding to this frustration, the money that drivers pay may not actually be going towards improvements to the road or the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.
A source of controversy itself, the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project is the extension of the Washington Metro system to Dulles International Airport and Tysons Corner. With an original completion date of early 2016, the Corridor Project has experienced a number of setbacks that have pushed the completion date into late 2017.
Funding issues have been the main source of contention, pushing the project back a year. 56 percent of the cost of the extension falls on the shoulders those who drive on Dulles Toll Road. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA), the group in charge of the project, has ballooned costs to an unreasonable amount and is now looking for increased funding. Virginia officials, including Rep. Frank Wolf and Gov. Bob McDonnell, are now stepping in to fight some of MWAA’s more excessive proposals. For example, MWAA proposed an underground station that would cost about $330 million more than an above ground station with the only real benefit of being 600 feet closer to the airport.
Due to these unwarranted costs, the burden has fallen on the Toll Road drivers, Fairfax County taxpayers, and Loudoun County taxpayers. Tolls could rise to $5.50 by 2015 and $19.25 by 2040 in order to offset the cost of the extension project. Taxpayers in Fairfax County would expect that these increased funds would go directly towards road improvements or the new Metro stations that fall within Fairfax County, yet this is not the case. The MWAA allocates $24 million in its budget for the widening of Route 606 in Loudoun County, using money collected from Fairfax County tolls to support the project.
Thanks to the efforts of groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth, both Fairfax County and Loudoun County taxpayers are now more aware of these funding oversights. Writing to key Virginia officials, the coalition successfully opened discussion on how these costs can be decreased and put to use in the originally intended way. Hopefully groups like the Coalition for Smarter Growth’s hard work will pay off for the Toll Road drivers, Fairfax County taxpayers, and Loudoun County taxpayers.
For more information, visit the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project website.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of members of the NDP Steering Committee.