AAA MID-ATLANTIC LAMBASTES LATEST INCREASES IN
DULLES TOLL ROAD FEES TO HELP PAY FOR THE SILVER LINE
Statement by John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic Manager of Public and Government Affairs
Another increasingly expensive round of toll fee hikes is in the offing for users of the Dulles Toll Road, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority ((MWAA), which operates the toll road. The $6 billion cost of the construction of the Silver Line, and the ever escalating tolls to finance it, are like a “silver bullet” in the heart of motorists and commuters.
It appears the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has a tin ear. It has done little to convince us otherwise. It is not heeding the cry of over-burdened motorists and commuters who are being nickled and dimed to death at the toll booth.
Since January of this year, motorists have been forking over $1.50 at the Main Toll Plaza and another 75 cents at the on-ramps and off-ramps. But let’s do the math, just as commuters and motorists are currently doing because they are being hit right and left as they travel through the toll plaza. On the top of that, the cost of a round-trip will increase next year and will soar eventually to as much as $9 by 2015.
Adding insult to injury, many commuters along the Dulles Toll Road also take the Dulles Greenway, where the peak tolls for a one-way trip are as much as $4.80. That’s a staggering fee, making it one of the most expensive daily commutes in the country.
This is the fate that befalls many toll road users who live in the area, to the ire and the chagrin of Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia 10th). As to the exorbitant toll fees along the Greenway, we also concur with the observation of Rep. Wolf, who is rightly calling this “highway robbery.”
Although we support the Silver Line to Dulles, and the use of toll revenue for transportation improvements along the Dulles corridor, the cost of the project is being disproportionately shouldered by motorists. That is not only draconian, it is also patently unfair.
Drivers know it, and they are bailing out along both the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Greenway. With potential tragic consequences, so too are the drivers of large vehicles and trucks. As Rep. Wolf has pointed us, “These outrageous tolls cause cars as well as large trucks from most area businesses to divert to side roads and residential streets.”
We say it again, as we have in the past, the latest round of toll increases probably will lead even more motorists to seek alternatives to the toll road, spreading congestion to nearby roads.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Board of Directors approved the three-year schedule for new toll rates back in November of 2009. Now the motoring public will feel the full brunt of the toll rates on their wallets and household budgets. By capturing the hard-earned money of motorists at the toll booth, the MWAA is financing the construction of the 23-mile, 11 station extension of Metrorail from East Falls Church to Washington Dulles International Airport west into Loudoun County.
That’s the reverse Robin Hood syndrome, and it is sickening to motorists. That’s robbing from the poor to give to the rich.
As the latest round of toll hikes for a round-trip on the Dulles Toll Road prove, they don’t call it the “Silver Line” for nothing.
John B. Townsend II
Phone: (202) 481-6820
Contact: Lon Anderson or Christopher Falkenhagen
Phone: (202) 481-6820