‘Backtrackers’ beware: Officers will be looking for you Thursday

November 21, 2013
The Dulles Toll Road. (Jahi Chikwendiu/TWP)
The Dulles Toll Road. (Jahi Chikwendiu/TWP)

“Backtrackers” beware.

As The Washington Post’s Mark Berman reported last week, officials at the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority last week launched an aggressive campaign to catch folks who’ve been dodging tolls on the Dulles Toll Road by cutting through the airport.

According to airport officials, 50 vehicles were cited during last Wednesday’s crackdown. The average number of drivers cited in a year is about 1,000. Officers are expected to be out again Thursday looking for violators.

“Backtracking through Dulles is cheating and it is illegal,” MWAA Police Chief Stephen L. Holl said in a statement announcing the stepped up enforcement. “It’s not fair to those who play by the rules and stick to the Toll Road for commuting and local travel. Our ongoing efforts to curb this illegal practice will help ensure the Access Highway is used properly.”

Currently, drivers operating two-axle vehicles pay $1.75 at the main toll plaza and $1 at the on- and off-ramps. Tolls are expected to increase in coming years because revenue from the toll road will be used to pay for construction of the Silver Line rail extension. That may be one reason why airport officials are moving to stop the practice now.

“Backtracking” is a moving violation, and fines start at $92, plus three points on a driver’s license, according to Authority officials.

These tickets won’t actually make up for any lost tolls. While tolls on the Dulles Toll Road go toward maintaining the road and building Metro’s Silver Line, these fines will actually just go to the county where the ticket is issued.

MWAA oversees operations at Reagan National, Washington Dulles International and the Dulles Toll Road. It also is managing construction of the $5.6 billion Silver Line rail extension.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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Lori Aratani | November 20, 2013