- jahi chikwendiu / TWP
An agreement reached today on a transportation plan by Virginia House and Senate negotiators is good news for users of the Dulles Toll Road.
The agreement, if approved by the full House and Senate, could mean $300 million in funding for the Silver Line rail project, which will eventually provide a rail link to Dulles Airport. It will also mean that planned increases in toll fees could be less than originally anticipated.
According to an analysis by officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the additional funding could reduce the amount toll road users will pay by about 50 to 60 cents less a trip — starting as soon as 2015.
For example, instead of having to pay $4.50 per trip starting in 2015, toll road users may only have to pay $4.00. That rate could stay in place until 2018, when tolls could rise to $6.25. MWAA’s board voted last year to increase tolls in 2013 and 2014, but put off increasing tolls in 2015 in hopes of securing additional funding from Virginia and the federal government.
Drivers have long chafed at the idea that more than half of the funding for the $5.6 billion rail project is coming from toll road revenue — but on Wednesday, MWAA officials who are managing construction of the rail line said the additional money could take some of the sting out of that plan.
MWAA’s president and chief executive officer, Jack Potter, broke the news of the additional funding to the board during a marathon day of meetings, which included a spirited debate over whether the authority was doing enough to offer opportunities to businesses owned by minorities and women.
The proposal worked out by the 10-member conference committee would substantially cut the fuels tax but raise the sales tax from 5 percent to 5.3 percent. It also diverts a portion of existing revenues to roads.
MWAA officials are also hopeful they may get more than $1 billion in federal loans that could further temper toll increases.
Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.