The Dulles Toll Road is about to get more expensive, and its administrators want you to know why.
Toward that end, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which is responsible for the toll road, held a public hearing on the subject in Loudoun County Thursday evening.
But Thursday's hearing looked less like a town hall than a science fair, and not just because the event was held in the cafeteria of Ashburn's Stone Bridge High School.
As the Bulldogs' girls' volleyball team drew cheers in the gym across the hall, two dozen MWAA staffers manned stations ringing the cafeteria, on hand to explain all things toll road, from the looming toll increase to the road's basic maintenance.
"It's educational," said Andrew Rountree, MWAA's chief financial officer. "We want to show our customers that we're not only raising the toll. We're also maintaining the roads and building infrastructure."
The toll is likely to increase by 50 cents at the start of 2013 and could increase almost an additional $2 in the next two years.
Rich Knox, a retiree from Franklin Farms said he attended the public hearing to to object to the toll increase and the Silver Line construction for which it will help pay.
"I was asking about the Metro passengers' contribution," Knox said. "They told me the passengers aren't even in the budget. So someone's getting a free ride."
Outside the school, Joanne LaRock of Hamilton collected signatures for a petition against the toll increase, and sold bumper stickers to match.
"The toll increase is going to drive traffic off the toll road and into all the roads around it," LaRock said. "It would be a shame if people couldn't afford the toll."
While toll road users were invited to submit official comments at Thursday's hearing, the toll is likely to increase — to double, from $2.25 to $4.50 by 2015 — whether commuters like it or not.
"There definitely needs to be a toll increase," said Mark Adams, MWAA's deputy CFO. "We've got outstanding debt, and we need to pay it."