Thursday, August 16, 2012

MWAA: There is a Better Way

Wouldn't it be crazy if your community was threatened by an approaching storm, but local authorities did
little to help citizens avoid the pending danger? That is about where Northern Virginia stands with the
perfect storm of Dulles Toll Road tolls, traffic and taxes that is bearing down on us. There is a lot of talking among 
politicians, but meaningful action is scarce.  

Some elected leaders are speaking out against the "ethically challenged" Airports Authority (MWAA) board,
and for good reason. But, this talk is not enough when they can do so much more. Here's
MWAA operates the DTR under a Virginia Department of Transportation permit that specifies MWAA
must make "best efforts" to complete the Dulles Rail project on time and efficiently. MWAA just applied to
VDOT for a three year extension of the completion date for Dulles Rail, citing a series of reasons MWAA feels
justify a three year delay. This dysfunctional body has made best efforts to protect it's own interests, but that
is not what the Operating Permit was referring to.

MWAA has proven beyond any doubt that they cannot be trusted with control of either the Dulles Toll Road or
the Dulles Rail project. VDOT should deny extension of the permit and resume control of the Dulles Toll
Road. Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton on April 14, 2012, said the State was so unhappy
with MWAA that it would rather finish building the Silver Line itself.

“We are actively evaluating whether we can take the project over. These guys (MWAA) are
a disaster,” Connaughton said. “We’re at the point, quite honestly, where we think we could
potentially do it better, cheaper, faster.”

"Cheaper" is an understatement. The state of Virginia wanted out of the obligation to fund 25% of Dulles
Rail (about $875 million) so it gave the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project to MWAA. The
problem is that MWAA has been an un-elected, unaccountable body from day one, and they have zero incentive
to operate efficiently. Now, instead of DTR users getting clipped for $875 million, MWAA intends to demand
about $3.5 billion from DTR users.

Based on the present funding plan for Phase 2, about $2 billion in Dulles Toll Road revenue bonds are needed
to complete the capital cost construction funding. MWAA's interest rate for Phase 1of the project has averaged6.07%.

This is double the interest rate the Commonwealth of Virginia’s rate for transportation projects financed
during the last year. $2 billion of Phase 2 debt under MWAA, at an interest rate of 6% would be an additional
$120 million per year in higher tolls. 

Don't miss the significance of this. Our elected leaders don't want the political liability that comes with toll increases so
they are hiding behind MWAA. The cost to commuters is a toll rate that pays that premium. In simple terms, a
$4.50 toll could be $3.75 (1) if Virginia would step in. With VDOT in charge, that rate could be even lower by eliminating
toll money wasted by the MWAA crony-factor.

Burdening Toll Road users with unnecessary costs is unacceptable, especially at a time when the
area faces cuts to the DOD budget, general economic stagnation, and area residents who will pay an average of

MWAA's management is a disaster and that should be fixed, but politicians must also put commuters and
taxpayers ahead of special interests, including themselves, by addressing the root problem of having an unaccountable body having tolling
authority over the Dulles Toll Road.

Daniel Davies

David LaRock

 (1) using a mortgage calculator you find that a loan amount doubles over 30 years at 3% interest, increasing the interest to 6% increases the total loan by 33% 

So, a $4.50 toll x 66%  =  a $3.75 toll

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