Reston and Herndon area residents expressed continuing support for the Silver Line but also some concern about the rising tolls on the Dulles Toll Road that are being used to pay a large portion of the cost to build the new rail line.
Reston residents Stephanie and Brian Cavanaugh said the proposed toll rate increases might affect their driving patterns.
“We’re going to be incredibly inconvenienced, but we can’t pay $800 per month in tolls,” Stephanie Cavanaugh said.
The tolls aren’t slated to go quite that high just yet. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering a toll of $2.75 per trip starting Jan. 1, then increasing to $3.50 per trip in 2014 and $4.50 per trip in 2015.
For the Cavanaughs, that means the cost of Brian’s daily commute on the toll road would go from about $90 per month today to about $180 per month by 2015, plus Stephanie’s trips on the road several times per week.
Brian Cavanaugh said he rather would see Fairfax and Loudoun counties chip in more through traditional taxes.
“Everybody benefits from [rail] but just the people who use the toll road are paying for it,” he said.
This common sentiment brought out several local groups to Wednesday’s public meeting that are fighting against the toll hikes, including the Reston Citizens Association and NoTollIncrease.org, a group collecting petition signatures against the toll hikes.
AAA Mid-Atlantic also has joined the fight against the toll increases.
“We think it’s quite frankly outrageous,” said Christopher Falken-Hagen, a spokesman for the motorist organization. “We think it’s disproportionately affecting commuters.”
Other commuters, like Mark Wilson of Herndon, said they are more willing to pay a bit more if it means having Metrorail service and other improvements in the corridor.
“I travel a lot. That’s why, for me, it’s a convenience,” Wilson said. He uses the toll road about four or five times per week.
If the rates increase too rapidly, like a 100 percent increase year to year, it might get to a point where he would make other choices, Wilson said.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is continuing to accept public comments on the toll rates through Sept. 16. Visit www.mwaa.com/tollroad for more information about the toll rate proposal or to submit a comment.
The airports authority board will make a final decision on toll rates later this year.