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Supervisors take stance against E-ZPass fee

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to officially oppose a proposed $1 per month fee for having an E-ZPass toll collection transponder.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is considering imposing the fee as part of an overall look at fee structures for E-ZPass users.

There are about 900,000 E-ZPass transponders in service throughout the state, equating to about $10.8 million per year in revenue if VDOT charged $1 per transponder, per month.

Supervisors said they are concerned the recurring charge would discourage infrequent toll road users from choosing the electronic collection method, which would add to congestion around toll plazas on the Dulles Toll Road.

“This may end up being a more expensive proposal than the money it saves” because of the need to hire more toll collectors, said Supervisor Pat Herrity (R-Springfield).

Supervisor Catherine Hudgins (D-Hunter Mill) noted VDOT has not said what it would do with the new revenue stream, so it would not necessarily support toll road operations. The local toll roads now are all privately operated.

The fee would present an even bigger problem for the new Interstate 495 Express Lanes, which do not offer a cash alternative, supervisors said. Not only could people who don’t have an E-ZPass not use the new Express Lanes, it also creates a monthly fee for carpoolers using the lanes.

The Express Lanes will be open to vehicles carrying three or more passengers with no toll, but vehicles must still have a new style of E-ZPass that allows them to use the lanes in carpool mode to avoid being ticketed.

“‘Free’ doesn’t mean that you pay a monthly fee for a transponder to use them,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay (D-Lee).

Supervisors Michael Frey (R-Sully) and John Coon (R-Braddock) did not support the motion to oppose the fee.

“Somebody has to pay for it,” Cook said, noting most East Coast states that use the E-ZPass system charge a fee for the service.

Public hearing planned on rail enviromental assessment

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority will have a joint public hearing on the updated environmental assessment for Phase 2 of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

The meeting is scheduled for June 13 at Herndon High School, 700 Bennett St. An open house will begin at 6:30 p.m. and the hearing will begin with a presentation at 7 p.m.

The hearing will provide an opportunity to comment on the proposed design refinements and the potential environmental and cultural resources effects resulting from those changes. This includes the relocation of the Dulles Airport station, from a below-ground station to an above-ground one.

The environmental documents are available in the Phase 2 section of the project website, www.dullesmetro.com, at libraries and at the project office in Vienna.

Print or electronic statements may be submitted until 5 p.m. June 25 to Karl Rohrer, deputy project director—Phase 2, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, 1593 Spring Hill Road, Suite 300, Vienna, VA 22182; electronic statements may be sent to eacomments@dullesmetro.com.

All comments must include the name, address, telephone number and any organization affiliation.