June 4, 2014

Regarding the June 1 Metro article “Has Dulles Toll Road outlived its value?

There is an alternative to the high cost of using the Dulles Toll Road and the resulting diversions of traffic to local streets: Make the tolls variable, depending on the time of day and the level of traffic.

When traffic is at its heaviest, the tolls could be raised to ensure that drivers move steadily along the road, which would allow more vehicles to use it. At other times, the tolls could be considerably reduced — perhaps even to zero in the middle of the night. Drivers could adjust their patterns of toll-road use to shift toward lower-cost times, if that was feasible for them.

In other words, allocate the use of the Dulles Toll Road according to supply and demand — the way the great majority of goods and services are already allocated in the U.S. economy. This was not practical until the development of electronic toll-collection methods, as are used on the new Beltway lanes in Virginia. The failure to use such methods more widely, as in situations such as the Dulles Toll Road, offers an unhappy commentary on our transportation leadership.

Robert H. Nelson, Chevy Chase

I drive to Virginia fewer than five times a year. The Dulles Toll Road is one of my top reasons for avoiding Northern Virginia.

On a recent drive there, the signage did not give me enough time to get in the right lane for full service. Luckily, I had an extra coin purse. Unluckily, although I drove as close to the coin hopper as I dared, I was too far away. I flung coins at the hopper, hoping against hope that they would land in it. Many did not. Someone behind me honked. When I opened my door, it clunked into something. A curb? There was no way to retrieve all those coins, lost to the road.

Sandra Yin, Rockville