Although they still want Metro service in their community, many Reston and Herndon residents remain concerned about the potential impact of higher rates on the Dulles Toll Road.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority plans to use toll revenues to pay for about 55 percent of the 23-mile rail line that will run from Tysons Corner through Reston and Herndon to Washington Dulles International Airport and Loudoun County.
Fairfax and Loudoun counties now are in a 90-day period during which they must decide whether they want to proceed with the $3.2 billion second phase of the Silver Line — from Reston to the airport and Loudoun. The $2.8 billion first phase, which will extend Metrorail service to Tysons Corner and Reston, is under construction. It is expected to be complete by the end of 2013.
During the second in a series of public information meetings around the county, residents expressed concern about financing so much of the projectvia tolls. Depending on a number of factors, a trip on the Dulles Toll Road could reach $4.50 as soon as next year. It currently costs $2.50.
“People are angry,” said Tammie Petrine, co-chair of the Reston 2020 Committee of the Reston Citizens Association. “We think there are more unintended consequences from this plan than you can shake a stick at.”
In addition to being concerned about their own ability to continue using the Dulles Toll Road — a key east-west route for Reston and Herndon residents — attendees said they are concerned about additional traffic from drivers diverting through their communities to avoid the tolls.
Lois Olson, like other Herndon residents, said they recall people cutting through the town to save 10 cents in past years, when it cost 35 cents to enter the toll road at Route 28 compared to 25 cents at other ramps.
An analysis from the Airports Authority’s tolling consultants shows a drop of about 18 million trips on the toll road in 2013 if the tolls were to increase to $4.50 next year.
The Airports Authority, Fairfax County and Virginia transportation officials are continuing to develop mechanisms to “buy down” the tolls and slow the pace of toll increases. If the state provides an anticipated $150 million in additional funding for the project, for example, tolls in 2013 would be more about $2.75 per trip, according to the Airports Authority.
Olson said she would like to see additional measures considered, such as a surcharge on airport parking. She said there hasn’t been enough transparency about what other funding options the Airports Authority has considered.
“Why is MWAA looking at the toll road with blinders on, as being an ATM or a piggy bank?” she asked.
County officials will continue to listen to public input about the rail project next week, concluding with a Board of Supervisors public hearing at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The board has through late May to make its decision about whether to proceed with the project.