Airports Authority Increases Awareness of Proper Dulles Access Highway Use

Published: November 12, 2013

Highly Visible Police Campaign to Prevent Illegal ‘Backtracking'


Police will be highly visible around Dulles International Airport enforcing the prohibition of vehicles using the Dulles Access Highway for non-airport business. This illegal practice is known as “backtracking” and is punishable by fine and lost points on a violator’s driver’s license.

The Access Highway was built exclusively for Dulles Airport traffic to and from Washington, D.C. The Dulles Toll Road was constructed to accommodate local and commuter traffic.  Backtrackers on the Access Highway, who avoid the Dulles Toll Road, place an unfair burden on law-abiding commuters, whose tolls pay for maintenance and improvements in the Dulles Corridor.

“Backtracking through Dulles is cheating and it is illegal,” said MWAA Police Chief Stephen L. Holl. “It’s not fair to those who play by the rules and stick to the Toll Road for commuting and local travel. Our ongoing efforts to curb this illegal practice will help ensure the Access Highway is used properly.”

Mobile electronic signs placed at key points around Dulles International Airport will advise drivers of the enforcement action. Police – some in unmarked cars – will pull over and ticket drivers once it becomes clear they are using the Access Highway without conducting airport business. Virginia State Police will team up with Airports Authority Police to assist with this enforcement.

Backtracking is a “moving violation” that carries a penalty of three points plus fines starting at $92. The Airports Authority does not receive money from these fines. Instead, fines are paid to the county in which the citation is written.

“Backtracking enforcement efforts – announced and unannounced – remain an important activity for the Airports Authority Police to reduce illegal roadway use and ensure fairness for all Dulles Corridor drivers,” Holl said.

Revenue from the Dulles Toll Road pays for the operation and maintenance of the road and helps fund construction of the Metrorail Silver Line in the Dulles Corridor. Besides illegally avoiding tolls, backtrackers also reduce the convenience of the Access Highway for airport users and add extra congestion to the HOV segment of I-66 inside the Capital Beltway, which has exceptions for airport traffic.


The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority was established in 1987 by the governments of Virginia and the District of Columbia to manage and operate Washington’s Ronald Reagan National and Dulles International airports, which together serve more than 40 million passengers a year. The Airports Authority also operates and maintains the Dulles Airport Access Road and the Dulles Toll Road and manages construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Washington region’s Metrorail system into Loudoun County, Va. No taxpayer money is used to operate the toll road, which is funded by toll revenues, or the airports, which are funded through aircraft landing fees, rents and revenues from concessions. The Silver Line construction is funded by a combination of toll-road revenues, airport contributions and federal, state and local government appropriations. The Airports Authority is led by a 17-member board of directors appointed by the governors of Virginia, Maryland, the mayor of Washington, D.C., and the president of the United States.