Tuesday, July 17, 2012

LeMunyon Pushes Back on Tolls

July 17, 2012

Contact: Marti Meersman
Phone: (703) 264-1432
Email: deljlemunyon@gmail.com

LeMunyon Pushes Back on Tolls

Richmond—Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-Fairfax/Loudoun) pressed the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (MWAA) yesterday to find alternatives to using Dulles Toll Road tolls to fund completion of the Dulles Rail Project. MWAA operates the toll road and sets toll prices.

MWAA’s Chief Financial Officer, Andrew Rountree, and Greg Whirley, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) made a joint presentation about Dulles Toll Road tolls yesterday afternoon before the Transportation Accountability Commission, of which LeMunyon is a member.

According to information presented to the Commission by MWAA, traffic volume on the Dulles Toll Road has decreased 10 percent since 2009 as tolls have increased.

“It’s clear from MWAA’s own data that existing tolls are already chasing cars off the Dulles Toll Road and thereby worsening traffic congestion on other arteries in Northern Virginia. Because of poor financial planning for Dulles Rail going back several years, we now find ourselves in a situation in which Dulles Rail is increasing congestion in Northern Virginia,” said Delegate LeMunyon. “Incredibly, 54 percent of the cost of Dulles Rail in the current MWAA financing plan is to be borne by toll payers. Whether it’s the Dulles Toll Road or any other toll road in Virginia, tolls should be used to build and maintain the road that’s tolled, and not used as a cash cow for other purposes.”

“Unless an alternative financing plan is found, congestion will only worsen in our area if tolls double or triple, as forecasted in MWAA’s projections, and more motorists stop using the Toll Road. While some people believe the state should assume greater financial responsibility for Dulles Rail, Commissioner Whirley made it clear that additional state funding for Dulles Rail would eliminate funding for other transportation priorities,” said LeMunyon.

LeMunyon proposed to MWAA at yesterday’s meeting that it engage the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (WMATA), which operates Metro, to build the Dulles Rail construction financing costs into future fare card prices, which would more directly align the cost of the project with the people who benefit from it. LeMunyon has also called for the federal government to shoulder some financial responsibility to complete Dulles Rail, as the project connects the nation’s capital to its international airport and therefore provides a national benefit. The federal contribution for Phase 2 of Dulles Rail is presently zero.

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