MWAA to vote on rates increases for Dulles Toll Road
By Lori Aratani,
The board of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is expected to vote Wednesday to raise fees on the Dulles Toll Road.
The toll increases are needed, in part, to fund construction of the Dulles Rail extension, the 23.1-mile project to extend Metro from Falls Church to Tysons, Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.
Currently, drivers pay $1.50 at the main toll plaza and 75 cents at on/off ramps for a total of $2.25. Under the plan being considered by the board, each of the two rates would increase by 25 cents, pushing the price to $2.75 in 2013. The rate would rise to $3.50 in 2014 and $4.50 in 2015. The new rates would take effect Jan. 1 of each year.
The meeting Wednesday at Dulles is the first public gathering of the MWAA board since a federal inspector general’s audit found widespread problems with the airports authority’s contracting and personnel practices. At the meeting, the board is expected to address some of the issues raised in the audit.
The first phase of the Metro’s planned Silver Line, which will connect Falls Church to Reston, is expected to be finished in August 2013. Toll revenue is expected to fund more than half the
$5.6 billion cost of building the rail line.
Nearly 200 people attended a series of public hearings on the rate increases. The issue has been one of great concern for commuters and for residents along the corridor, who fear that toll hikes will force cars onto local roads. Some fear that toll rates could rise to as much $17 round trip in the next 20 to 30 years. Other say it is unfair to make drivers pay for the rail link and have suggested other methods for funding the rail project, including adding a surcharge to riders who take the rail line to the airport.
Michael Curto, the chairman of the MWAA board, said the authority is not eager to raise tolls and is not ruling out alternatives.
“We’re looking for other sources of revenue,” he said in an interview.
The board could vote to put off the 2015 increase if the U.S. Department of Transportation approves MWAA’s application for $2.9 billion in loans through the federal Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, known as TIFIA.