Buried deep in a story about the newest projected toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road is a fun little tidbit: the difference between building an above ground and underground Metro station at Dulles Airport works out to 50 cents per trip on our fun-filled expressway to the wonders of Tysons.
Ultimately, the decision to go underground at the Airport could lead to a .50 cent difference in tolls on the toll road according to a report given to the board.We're going to use our fancy Fairfax County Public School math skills and assume they meant 50 cents and not one-half of one cent. Otherwise, if all that boring and tunneling and awesome miners helmets with the lights on them and whatnot is so cheap, they should just bury everything, including our beloved
But we digress. Overall, Metro construction costs will lead to a steady increase in Toll Road fares going forward, as construction (hopefully) continues on the Silver Line:
Toll rates on the Dulles Toll Road may have to jump to $5.50 by 2015 and $10.75 by 2020. Right now, the cost of a full trip on the toll road is $2.But fear not! The airport authority has, as they say in the movies, a plan:
"That's right. That's always been part of the plan -- a regular series of toll rate increases," says Bryan Grote, Financial Advisor to MWAA. "You do have these construction expenditures coming up over the next several years, and that's what has to be financed."
A group of financial advisors also urged the MWAA board to consider other tolling options on the toll road as a way to increase revenue. For example, charging more for drivers during peak hours, setting up a distance-based toll system and considering putting a toll on the Airport Access Road which is currently free.Whatever winds up coming of that, we'd better start looking under the couch cushions for quarters now.
The board has agreed to study a new transportation plan over the next six months. A better estimate for toll increases is expected after that time.
The bottom line is that the region needs the Silver Line, and the underground station is what makes the most sense as a long-term investment in an economy that's likely to be driven in large part by IAD. But someone's going to have to figure out a way to pay for this that doesn't just involve a whole pile of quarters, a couple of quarters at a time.