As construction on Metro's awesome Silver Line extends out of the
hellhole urban oasis of Tysons Corner and onto the Toll Road, you may have thought to yourself, "Gee, those endless rows of orange cones must have cost a bundle. Wonder who's going to pay for them?"
Who, exactly. Better dig out that jar of change.
Currently MWAA plans to increase the main toll plaza by 25 cents each year for three consecutive years, resulting in a total increase of 75 cents by 2012. It would also increase the on- and off-ramp tolls from 50 cents to 75 cents beginning Jan. 1, 2010.The Reston Association has already voted to support the toll hikes. But some people are not happy! Among them, the Dulles Corridor Users Group, which was established in 2005 by Chris Walker, who developed Cascades Business Center and Parkridge Business Park closer to home in Reston. In August, his group sued to stop the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority from collecting tolls as a means of funding the Silver Line extension. While that little chestnut wends its way through the legal system, the MWAA is holding a series of public meetings on the toll hikes, including one next from 5-8pm next Wednesday, September 9, at South Lakes High School.
Yay! A public hearing, right here in Reston! The last one of those went so well, after all. For some reason, though, throwing a bunch of quarters into a filthy basket on an off-ramp hasn't engendered as much of an outcry as death panels and stabbing grannies in the back. At the first of these hearings in Ashburn, fewer than 50 people attended, and many of those that did complained about the format. Apparently they weren't excited about seeing the "exhibits about the Metrorail project, including details about the cost and financing of the rail project, details about the Dulles Toll Road, planned improvements, revenue projections under the toll increase scenario and information on how the money raised from tolls is to be spent." Maybe they should jazz those exhibits up with some, you know, rad '80s art.
Here's part of what the Dulles Corridor Users Group is saying on its "web-site," including a claim that tolls will eventually reach as high as $11 and change by 2047. Which is silly, since by then there will be no oil and society will have crumbled and we'll all be hiding in the post-apocalyptic rubble from our evil cyborg masters. But anyhoo!
Most local residents are unaware that Dulles Rail total costs include not only the estimated $5.3 BILLION CAPITAL COST but $18 BILLION or more in FINANCING COSTS to be paid by DTR users. Additionally, $8 BILLION or more in OPERATING COST DEFICITS could result from Dulles Rail operations during the next 40 years.Can't find the time to painstakingly hand-letter an angry sign or block out a play in time for next Wednesday's hearing? You can learn more about the hearing process or comment here.
Under MWAA plans, unless financial structure changes are made, DTR toll revenues will increase from $65 million in 2009 to $110 million in 2012. The financing plan projects future tolls of $220 million in 2020 and over $500 million annually in the 2040’s with further toll increases likely to cover long overdue improvement and repair costs. As a result, you can expect to pay $11 or more in tolls each way from Herndon and Reston to Tysons Corner, even more if you are Dulles Greenway user.
The MWAA toll increase public hearing process is designed to prevent the public from learning about widespread opposition to planned toll increases.. A recent poll showed that over 90% of those voting claim present tolls are high enough already. Most Dulles Corridor residents and workers believe that DTR tolls collected during the last 25 years should be used to end tolling as occurred elsewhere in Virginia.