The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors voted Wednesday to increase rates on the Dulles Toll Road, beginning in January 2013, from the current $1.50 to $1.75 at the main toll plaza and from 75 cents to $1.00 on ramps, with an additional increase in January 2014 to $2.50 at the main plaza. The Board deferred a decision on toll rates for 2015, citing the potential for additional funding sources for constructing Phase 2 of the Metrorail Silver Line.
Under the contract governing construction of the Silver Line, the Airports Authority is required to use revenues from the toll road to help fund the project. Funding also is supplied by Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Airports Authority and the federal government. Airports Authority Board Chairman Michael Curto emphasized that the 2013 and 2014 toll adjustments are primarily necessary to help pay for Phase 1 Silver Line construction costs.
Proposed toll rates that were considered during hearings this fall also called for increases in 2015, but the Board noted the current uncertainties over the amount of revenue that would be needed in 2015 as the Authority pursues additional sources of funding.
Curto said the decision came “after careful consideration of public input received at the three recently held toll rate hearings, the public comments received on-line and the recommendation of the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee.” The Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee, a group that includes officials representing the Commonwealth of Virginia, local governments in Northern Virginia and the Airports Authority, reviewed and recommended the rates adopted by the Board.
“Since the 2015 toll adjustments are largely tied to Phase 2 of the Silver Line construction, and since the cost and funding of that project remains in a dynamic state, the Board decided to forego any 2015 toll increases at this time,” Curto said.
“The Airports Authority is in the midst of a very competitive procurement for the contractor for the primary Phase 2 work, and the cost of this work will not be known until the procurement process is complete next spring,” he added. “In addition, the Board remains hopeful of Phase 2 funding assistance from the Commonwealth and the federal government.”
The Metrorail Project funding partners (Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the Airports Authority) have made joint request to the U.S. Department of Transportation for federal assistance under the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, known as “TIFIA,” which provides loans for major transportation projects
In deciding not to set 2015 toll rates, the Board noted that the potential for low cost financing afforded by a TIFIA loan, combined with the potential for additional financial assistance from the Commonwealth and possibly other sources, along with the potential for a competitively priced Phase 2 Silver Line construction contract at less than the estimated cost, could significantly reduce the size of toll increases needed in 2015 and future years. If the availability of additional funding, along with the contract cost of Phase 2 construction, becomes known prior to June 30, 2013, the Board indicated it may revisit the need to establish rates for 2015 using the current public record. However, any rates the Board then would set would not exceed the 2015 rates recommended by the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee ($3.00 at the main plaza and $1.50 on ramps).
“The Board is grateful to the public and the Dulles Corridor Advisory Committee for their invaluable input over the past months in the Airports Authority’s toll rate setting process,” Curto said. “We also would like to thank the many Airports Authority staff and consultants for their efforts in exploring all options to keep tolls on the Dulles Toll Road as low as possible.”
The Silver Line, a 23-mile extension of the existing Metrorail system being constructed by the Airports Authority, will be operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. The extension will serve Tysons Corner, Virginia's largest employment center, and the Reston and Herndon areas, the state's second largest employment concentration. It will provide a rail link between Dulles International Airport and downtown Washington.
The project, which will include 11 new stations, is being built in two phases. Phase 1, which is more than 80 percent complete, will run from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue on the eastern edge of Reston. Construction is expected to be completed by the late summer of 2013.
Phase 2 will run from Wiehle Avenue to Ashburn in eastern Loudoun County. A construction date has not been set for the extension that will serve Reston Town Center, Herndon, Dulles Airport, Route 606 and Ashburn.
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.