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Posted at 7:35 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

Dulles Toll Road rates to rise Jan. 1

By Michael D. Bolden

dullestollroad.jpg

Toll rates at the main plaza on the Dulles Toll Road are scheduled to increase by 25 cents on Jan. 1.

The decision to increase the tolls was made last fall following public hearings conducted by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the road and has pledged the revenue toward the expansion of Metrorail from East Falls Church to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County. The authority enacted a three-year schedule of increases with the first beginning Jan. 1, 2010. The tolls will increase 25 cents on Jan. 1, 2011, and again by 25 cents on Jan. 1, 2012.

The new rates at the main toll plaza beginning next month are:
-- Two axles: $1.25
-- Three axles: $1.50
-- Four axles: $1.75
-- Five axles: $2
-- Six axles or more: $2.25

The rates for the on- and off-ramps are not scheduled to change.

The airports authority assumed a 50-year responsibility to operate and maintain the toll road in 2009.

The first phase of the Metrorail extension, pegged at $2.75 billion and extending to Wiehle Avenue in Reston, is scheduled to open in 2013. The second phase, whose cost has been estimated as high as $4 billion depending on the location of a station at Dulles International Airport, is scheduled to open in 2016.

Related stories:

Wolf wants auditor for Dulles rail project

Dulles Toll Road fees to rise

By Michael D. Bolden  | December 8, 2010; 7:35 PM ET
Categories:  Metro, Northern Virginia, Silver Line  
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Comments

See what happens when roads become cash cows for transit?

Anyone who thinks some of that incresed revenue will go towards fixing the cracks, bumps, and potholes is delusional.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 8, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I agree with you ceefer66. That road has been turned into a floating source of revenue far beyond its original intent. I'm glad I only rarely have to use it.

Posted by: morattico | December 8, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Considering the debacle they've made of the area around the main toll plazas on both sides with all the construction until 2013+, they should be paying US for sitting there in traffic.

Also, what is it with the EZPASS resistance? They should make it mandatory. Enough of this "cash/exact change" in one lane and "full service" in the only other lane on the ramps. Seriously? This is 2010. Get with the program.

Posted by: nocando | December 8, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

The tolls should equal the maintenance cost of the road used and any collection costs. That road should not be a way to generate revenue for other projects.

There's an implicit logic that the tolls are a "sin tax" that burdens car drivers to subsidize the "good" citizens who take public transportation. In fact, there are numerous people whose transportation needs cannot be met with public transit.

But just wait until they put the HOT lanes on 495. Then you'll see flexible tolls that will evolve into whatever the traffic will bear, literally.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 8, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

What other roads do you pay for in this area? With the logic I see on these posts, every road should have it's own toll so it can pay for itself. The money spent on the transit will reduce the traffic on the road (for alittle unitl the development that will surley surround the transit line will increase the amount of cars again). I would be happy to pay the extra money, but I never go out that way so I don't care.

Posted by: Baltimore137 | December 8, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@Baltimore137

"What other roads do you pay for in this area? "

Every single one of them with my fuel taxes, registration fees, and the taxes on my insurance premiums. That's 8-grade civics, genius.

" The money spent on the transit will reduce the traffic on the road..."

Here we go again. Another transit advocate/car hater who exaggerates the benefits of transit.

Suggestion: Have a friend who drives take you around and show you all the traffic congestion we have even with all the transit. Only a fool would see all of that and conclude that the traffic exists simply because we haven't built enough transit.

" (for alittle unitl the development that will surley surround the transit line will increase the amount of cars again)."

I thought you people LIKED and ENCOURAGED "transit-oriented development".

" I would be happy to pay the extra money, but I never go out that way so I don't care."

So, now we see your true colors! YOU don't use it, so you "don't care".

Using YOUR logic, people who don't use transit shouldn't "care" about transit. And we shouldn't have to pay for it, either.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 8, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

It's inconceivable that the gas tax (and other fees you list) cover the cost of the roads you use. The gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon provides less than a half penny per mile driven for road maintenance.

Every mode of transportation is subsidized by income taxes and property taxes, but until now, car users have gotten the lion's share of the the subsidy and they don't like sharing (sharing by way of paying more of their own costs).

Posted by: paul5301 | December 8, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

It's inconceivable that the gas tax (and other fees you list) cover the cost of the roads you use. The gas tax of 17.5 cents per gallon provides less than a half penny per mile driven for road maintenance.

Every mode of transportation is subsidized by income taxes and property taxes, but until now, car users have gotten the lion's share of the the subsidy and they don't like sharing (sharing by way of paying more of their own costs).

Posted by: paul5301
-----------------------------------

I never implied that fuel taxes pay the full cost of building and maintaining roads. In fact, they are mainly used to finance highways, not secondary roads or local streets.

Any way you slice it, drivers pay 100% of the cost of their transportation, regardless of how roads are financed. Not to mention the cost of acquiring, insuring, and maintaining a vehicle.

No one is "giving" us anything and anyone who says "driving is subsidized", yourself included, is an uninformed idiot who doesn't know what they're talking about.

If you don't drive, roads (not local streets) don't cost you anything to speak of. As I said earlier, that's 8-grade civics.

Transit on the othet hand, IS subsidized. For example, Metro riders only pay 30% of the cost of their ride at the farebox, according to the WMATA's own figures (see their website). The rest of the cost from comes from everyone, whether they use transit or not.


I personally have no problem being taxed to support transit. My problem is with paying tolls to drive on a road I'm already being taxed to build and mnaintain and seeing that money siphoned off to pay for transit I can't use, ESPECIALLY when ungrateful transit users and assorted other idiots spout off nonsense about "drving is subsidized" and "we should make driving more expensive to raise more money for transit and force people to use it".

I hope I've made myself clear.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 8, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Just wait until you see the HOT lanes on 495. The variable rate toll scheme is so complex that no one will be able to determine if their credit cards are being fairly charged for the trips. Variable charges for factors like the speed of the trip, and congestion of the road are impossible for the consumer to verify.

They'll just keep nickel and diming the public until the complaining gets too loud. If your employer pays the tolls, then you will never make a sound as the rates rise, and those who pay out of their own pockets won't make enough noise to be heeded.

And even though they can compute it and verify it just as easily as your toll, there will be no reimbursement for the gasoline taxes paid while using a private road. The gas tax assumes all travel is done on public roads, hence it is believed to be a user fee with minimal externalities. That's not the case for daily HOT land commuters (or Greenway commuters today).

Posted by: blasmaic | December 9, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse


I am so glad I don't drive the toll rod but a few times a year now. I used to have to do it 5 days a week.

And for everyone out there, the toll rd was supposed to only be tolled until enough money had been collected to pay for its original construction and to sock away a set amount of money as a trust fund for its future upkeep.

That threshold was passed in 1999.

Posted by: Nosh1 | December 9, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Paul,

You couldn't be further from the truth.

Here, I linked a long analysis on transit subsidy vs car subsidy by the biggest car haters of them all over at GGW on data from 2008.

Their conclusion, much to their own suprise was:

"Given 4.75 trillion passenger-miles in private vehicles in 2008, this amounts to an overall subsidy of the car system of 6.0 to 12.7 cents per passenger-mile, which is still significantly less than the 44+ cents per passenger-mile direct subsidy for mass transit."

So in conclusion, per passenger mile which is the only way to legitmately compare various modes of transportation, mass transit gets a minimum of 4 TIMES the subsidy private cars do.

See below for analysis.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6815/struck-in-dc-this-week-13-pedestrians-3-cyclists/#comment-65829

Posted by: Nosh1 | December 9, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

@Nosh1, thanks for linking to the analysis posted on GGW. I agree that subsidy per passenger mile is a good metric to use.

I wish they also had metrics for...
1. subsidy per passenger trip by mode or average trip length by mode, and

2. total amount spent (I saw the total for cars but I couldn't find one for transit).

Posted by: paul5301 | December 9, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@ceefer66, rabble rabble rabble

Posted by: paul5301 | December 9, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

@paul5301,
rabble rabble rabble

Glad you noticed. You go, girl!

Interesting that "rabble rabble rabble" is all you have to say in response to my comments. I skewer every uninformed car-hater and transit advocate that rears up (including you). You can't rebutt, so you heckle.

I suppose I shouldn't expect any better from someone who bases his argument entirely on slogans and misstatement of facts, and thereby acccomplishes nothing other than making himself look foolish.

Sorry if the truth hurts, but nearly every car-hater and transit advocate who joins these discussions falls into one of 2 categories:

1. Those who don't know what they're talking about and try to debate using slogans, wishful thinking, skewed data, and outright falsehoods.

2. Those who deliberately mis-state the facts in hopes of creating another person like you - someone with a big mouth who doesn't know what he's talking about.

So, you go and have a happy landing.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 9, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Ceefer, you may be right (but I don't think you are; I believe property and state income taxes contribute to roads). But I KNOW I am right in stating that you are rude. Validate your understanding with actual information including references (like Nosh1) instead of condescension, belligerence, and name-calling.

Check this link for a bit of information:
http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Road_Funding_US.html

Posted by: Restonite1 | December 9, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

@ Restonite1

"Ceefer, you may be right (but I don't think you are; I believe property and state income taxes contribute to roads)."

Of course they do. And who pays the bulk of those taxes? People who DRIVE. And those people aslo pay to support transit.

"But I KNOW I am right in stating that you are rude."

I have a problem with people who continually misstate the facts. And I'm sick and tired of the car-hating transit users who get a cheap ride at my expense then lie about how the "subsisze driving".

And, no, I don't apologize for calling them out. And sanctimonious prattling from the likes of you won't stop me. Don't read my comments if don't like tem.

"Validate your understanding with actual information including references (like Nosh1) instead of condescension, belligerence, and name-calling."

I suppose you missed my reference to the WMATA website. You must have been too caught up with trying to make your point to have noticed.

Posted by: ceefer66 | December 9, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

You made my point for me, again.

And now, I have other things to do.

Posted by: Restonite1 | December 9, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

@ceefer66, your logic doesn't seem to hold. You say...

"drivers pay 100% of the cost of their transportation, regardless of how roads are financed."

...but if the roads are financed even partly by non-car-related taxes then no, drivers don't pay 100% of the cost because not all tax payers are car drivers.

Many people that pay taxes do not own cars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._cities_with_most_households_without_a_car .

For decades massive amounts of money have been spent on car infrastructure, for example the construction cost alone of the interstate highway system was $425 billion in 2006 dollars, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System .

In contrast, the recent plan to build high speed rail projects called for spending less than $10 billion, http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2010/0128/Obama-s-high-speed-rail-plan-Which-states-get-the-money.

I drive 267 for work and paying the toll sucks, especially when it goes up year after year. I would like to see more roads in the area tolled to distribute the burden more evenly and more transportation options added. As it is, the toll road has a near monopoly and so of course they can raise the rate.

Posted by: paul5301 | December 9, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

@ceefer - if you hate transit so much - shut down the metro (bus and rail) for a week, and see how traffic is then...

Each of those metro lines carries as many people as a full 3-6 lane freeway (~10-25k people per hour on the train vs. 3500 per lane on a freeway, assuming it's moving). Just like a transit rider is happy the roads are there, you are better off for having transit as well.

For the record, MetroRAIL farebox recovery is over 65% after the fare increase - the 30% figure is for the buses. If you compare apples to apples (gas tax vs. transit fares), road users pay pretty close to that same 65%.

If you're looking for a group to blame - take a good look at MWAA, who took over the toll road a few years ago and summarily neglected the road surface and the buses that travel on it (formerly paid with a small part of the toll revenues).

Posted by: vtavgjoe | December 9, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

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