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District Floats Toll Ideas

Motorists already know that Maryland and Virginia are planning to impose congestion pricing on new highway lanes. Those programs on the intercounty connector, Capital Beltway and Interstate 95 have been welcomed by some commuters, who look forward to using a less congested lane, even if they have to pay a variable toll to keep traffic moving. And they've been opposed by others, like the I-95 sluggers, who think such plans will increase congestion and diminish safety.

But all the plans so far use the toll money to finance the new lanes we couldn't afford to build with tax money. Congestion pricing is a traffic-control technique added onto the highway financing plan.

What if tolling for traffic control became a standalone concept? Transportation experts across a broad spectrum are getting pretty fond of that idea, but it's a threshold that political leaders have been very reluctant to cross.
These experts are talking about charging drivers to use roads already built, but theory people don't have to answer to voters.

What would you think if the governments imposed tolls to ease congestion on Route 7 in Virginia or Route 50 in Maryland, or all around the Beltway? Various technologies exist to do that. And while we've gotten used to thinking of toll roads, it's entirely possible to have toll zones.

Now the District government gets into the game. Read Eric Weiss's story in today's Post about the District's request for federal money to study how it could reduce congestion by charging for access to the city. Meanwhile, D.C. Council member Marion Barry has proposed formation of a committee to study the idea of setting up toll stations on District roads.

I guess the political theory here is that D.C. voters won't mind talking about the idea, because they wouldn't be the ones paying the tolls.

The idea of using tolls to reduce congestion deserves a hearing. We should have that debate, but I wish we could have it in the clear. The D.C. ideas come with a history. It's called the commuter tax. Can't label you a cynic if you're thinking of these new ideas as a potential end run around the ban on a commuter tax.

Also, we had a recent experience with a proposal for congestion pricing: Metro floated the idea of creating a zone in the heart of the subway system where riders would pay a higher fare. It was refered to as congestion pricing, but muddied up the concept. Congestion pricing is supposed to make commuters modify their work hours or their place of work or their means of travel.

The Metro plan was a money-raising idea, targeting the riders who were least able to change their behavior, and the new general manager, John Catoe, dropped the idea. Can't label you a cynic if you're thinking the District's traffic relief ideas are actually a debt relief plan.

By Robert Thomson  |  May 3, 2007; 7:40 AM ET
Categories:  Transportation Politics  
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I don't see how a toll is practical except to punish Virginia commuters. You can't, practically speaking, toll every possible entrance to the city from Maryland. There are too many possible ways across. Consider all the roads that intersect Western Avenue as an example. Given that Western Avenue is half in DC and half in Maryland, I don't see how DC could effectively block off access from all the Maryland streets that intersect it so as to require Maryland commuters to funnel through, say, Westmoreland Circle, or down River Road, and I don't see how it would be viable to set up London-style congestion charging cameras for all the other possible access points from Maryland. (The area of London with the congestion charge is far smaller than the DC-Maryland line, I believe.) So you're left with the idea of tolling people who cross Chain Bridge, Key Bridge, the Roosevelt Bridge, and the 14th Street Bridge; Memorial Bridge is entirely within the District and on National Park Service land, so I'm not sure they could do anything there, and I believe the Wilson Bridge is owned by the feds so they can't impose a toll for crossing the few metres of DC airspace in question.

So I don't really see the point of this. More grandstanding by fools who apparently don't understand that their city has more important issues with which to deal.

I do have one potential issue with this statement: "I guess the political theory here is that D.C. voters won't mind talking about the idea, because they wouldn't be the ones paying the tolls." So what happens when DC drivers enter or leave the city, or when they drive on one of the tolled roads? Does DC intend to exempt its own drivers from the tolls? Seems to me that this would lend itself to some interesting constitutional litigation under the Commerce Clause, possibly the Dormant Commerce Clause (that one would require some thought, not sure it works), and the Equal Protection Clause. The District would be blatantly discriminating against anyone not from the District, and we have a pretty longstanding history of jurisprudence saying that you can't do that, but then on the other hand I guess Congress would have to approve the law allowing the tolls, so if Congress allows the District to do this....hmmm, the issue would require a lot of thought. Giving DISCOUNTS on tolls to residents (like they do on Staten Island) is one thing and it's fairly common, but what DC would be doing is saying "everyone not from here must pay," and I'm not sure there's any precedent for that in this country.

Posted by: Rich | May 3, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

New York City is currently considering a similar plan, charging motorists to use the most congested potions of Manhattan. I understand London already does it and plan to read a bit about it before I make a judgement. Off the cuff, my liberal side says, well, the Feds take away many of the rights of the citizens of DC to decide how they want to run their own city, so let them go for it. My conservative side says, heck no - this is an unconstitutional commuter tax scam and punishment for the hard-working folks from Maryland and Virginia who are forced to commute into the District.

Posted by: Karen | May 3, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how DC residents and their "leaders" would react to a proposal by Maryland and Virginia to charge them tolls for using our roads to get to our airports.

Posted by: CEEAF | May 3, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Ugh, I really don't like the idea, for Metro or otherwise. (Besides, isn't charging significantly more for rush-hour service already a sort of commuter/congestion tax for them? But that's another blog.)

All this would probably do is put even more strain on Metro and public transportation as people attempted to avoid the tolls, and our public transit systems aren't too ducky in this city anyway and they're already overcrowded. Or, it would just raise the cost of living still further for the area since then you'd have to factor in tolls as well as gas or public transportation costs when deciding where to live.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I love living in DC, but if this sort of thing is instituted in a broad way (not just a higher parking or access fee for the most congested areas of downtown), I'll be making plans to move back to rural Virginia. What's the point of this tax? DC roads are not THAT badly congested, even downtown is fine except during rush hour. How is pushing more people onto the already overcrowded Metro going to help?

I think they're all smoking crack.

Posted by: Connie | May 3, 2007 9:33 AM | Report abuse

If the toll tax moves forward, the federal payments to the District should immediately cease and the Federal Government offices should be promptly relocated to the surrounding counties and/or states where crime and land prices are all much lower.

Posted by: Rufus | May 3, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The first test that such a scheme would have to pass is the political one (Congress will not approve it), the next one would be the Constitutional one (DC would be interfering with interstate commerce, which it cannot do - see matter on hazardous materials on trains). All the examples cited are for matters within one legal jurisdiction (even Manhattan is not proposing to set its tolls at the NJ line). What DC would do would overlap jurisdictions, a no-no without Federal legal approval.

Posted by: Laszlo in DC | May 3, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I understand there are many driving commuters here, so there's going to be a lot of knee-jerk hatred for this plan, but let's get some things right:

1) Congestion pricing would only apply to the city core, not the entire city, so this isn't an anti-Virgina idea, it's anti-everyone.

2) To get from DC to DCA, very little (if any?) time is spent on non-DC/federal highways. The get to IAD, most time is spent on MWAA-owned highways. Unless VA wants to charge everyone, Virginians included, on the short stretches of 66/267, then that wouldn't work.

3) As with most laws, this would have to have congressional approval, so why would federal "payments" to DC stop?

Posted by: Areg | May 3, 2007 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Encouraging commuters to use alternate means of transportation is great, but those means have to exist. I live in Reston and used to work in Merrifield. A couple of times when I had car issues, I used public transit. What a nightmare! Figuring out which is the correct Fairfax Connector stop, where/which bus to transfer to at the Town Center, etc. is incredibly difficult, and it took me roughly three times as long to get to my office as it did when I drove.

I really like Metro--I use it whenever I go into the city--but the bus systems are a big pain. They should be easy to use and commuter-friendly, but they rarely are. Ffx Connector stops rarely (never?) have the bus numbers and route schedules posted on the sign. A little upgrade like that might encourage me to take the bus to/from my job in Tysons rather than take the Toll Road or Route 7.

Posted by: MC | May 3, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I do agree that the toll would be unfair to Virginia residents, but in reality DC is apart of Maryland so it would effectively be no different than a New York city and New Jersey relationship. Virginia shouldn't have retroceeded their portion of the District :-)
Really though, a toll into DC would make for a traffic nightmare. DC gets more than enough money from the Feds for road projects.

Posted by: Sivad | May 3, 2007 10:14 AM | Report abuse


One correction: there already are tolls on all crossings between Manhattan and New Jersey.

Posted by: cap hill | May 3, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

As a DC resident who commutes to Virgina, I say we put tolls on every entrance to DC as Manhanttan does to commuters, or at least the congested areas downtown. I have no problem charging money for unnecessary traffic through downtown, and specifically for all the tax-evading city-dwellers who park all over DC, live in DC, but don't contribute tax-wise to improving roads. As an alternative, a better system of freeways, with tolls, through DC between MD and VA would behoove us all so there's unnecessary traffic in the city. I already have to pay ridiculous tolls in both VA and MD to get to airports or cross bridges, why not charge those residents for using DC-funded road works which are shameful.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

1. London did this. It works. People suddenly discovered they didn't need to drive everywhere in town during rush hour.

2. You're absolutely right that transit has to be improved in tandem with this. I would earmark 100% of the revenues generated by the congestion tax to transit improvements. For example, the proposed streetcar line creation on routes not served by Metro (i.e., Hst NE).

3. It should be accompanied by items which deal with residents of DC., not just suburban commuters. For example, the residential parking permits should be changed to charge by vehicle size. Someone with a Yukon takes up twice as much space as a compact. There's no sane reason why both pay the same fee to park on streets.

Posted by: John | May 3, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

CEEAF said:
"I wonder how DC residents and their "leaders" would react to a proposal by Maryland and Virginia to charge them tolls for using our roads to get to our airports."

As a DC resident, such a toll might encourage me to ditch the car and take Metrorail to DCA, the 5A bus to IAD, or the B30 bus to BWI. Which could lead to less congestion on the GW Parkway, I-66, or the BW-Parkway, respectively. Which, come to think of it, might be the point.

Posted by: DC Rez | May 3, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

They should figure out a way to impose tolls on people who drive into the city instead of taking public transport, and they should use those funds to make metro & the buses run more effectively!!!!!

Metro could run every minute in the morning, and most of the people who drive/commute to the city now could ride it instead. Our collective health would improve with less car exhaust.

Posted by: HillResident | May 3, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Rich, while the Feds owned the old Wilson Bridge, they don't own the new one. The opening ceremony for the first span last summer also included the formal transfer of ownership to the two states.

I've asked why they didn't put a toll on the new bridge to cover it's high costs, and was told that MD quashed it, because Marylanders use it much more than Virginia residents do (just look at the morning and evening backups on each side), and would thus pay a disproportionate share of the tolls. They were also concerned about trucks diverting to the American Legion bridge if faced with a WW bridge toll, which would add further to the mess on that part of the Beltway.

Anyway, as for the issue at hand, I think DC would be tolling cars on I-295, not the Beltway, as part of this concept.

Posted by: JJ | May 3, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Until Metro can get its act together and provide realiable service, I don't see how anyone can impose a toll on people to enter DC. Plain and simple, it's currently easier for most people to hop in their cars than it is to take metro. Take my commute this morning. I was 25 minutes late for work despite leaving 10 minutes earlier than normal. The reason? A broken yellow line train that took 15 minutes to figure out it was broken and to offload people. Fix metro and it will be a far more appealing option. But don't charge people to come into DC because they want to be at their offices on time.

Posted by: LV | May 3, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

It's always entertaining to see comments from folks living in VA saying how much DC gets Federal funding because of gov. offices. Of course, nobody considers the termendous cost to DC of supporting the government's presence (roads, city services, police, etc.) or the fact that DC does not collect property taxes on the large percentage of the city owned by the Government. More than that, DC is the only jurisdiction (not calling it a state so as not to get into that argument) not entitled to collect income tax on all the out of "state" residents working in the city. If you worked in NY but lived in NJ, you would pay NY income tax. But thanks to greedy members of congress, DC can't collect. That brings us right back to the issue identified above -- out of "state" residents not realizing that while they think they are not using city services while only working in DC, they really are. These out of "state" residents working in DC enjoy the benefit DC-taxpayer-supported streets, police and emergency services, water and sewer systems, street lighting, and other city services. So, it is only fair to collect a toll as a means to revenue if income tax isn't allowed. For all those that object, please do the following when you are in the city at work: don't use city sidewalks, don't use public trash cans, avoid use of the sewer system (i.e., don't go to the bathroom), don't call 911 if you need police or emergency assistance, and don't drive on city streets. If you need any of those services, however, maybe you should pay.

Posted by: DC Resident | May 3, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

Jeez. The bridges from Va into DC are already clogged up during rush hour. Imagine adding a toll plaza on the DC side of each bridge as well. 267 would probably run pretty smoothly except for the toll plaza. DC should see this as a lesson.

Posted by: ivangroznii | May 3, 2007 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The current issue of The New Yorker has an article about proposals to reduce Manhattan's congestion ( The point is that congestion taxes--when devoted to improvements in mass transit as happened in London and Stockholm--contribute to reduced congestion, improved average traffic speeds and reductions in greenhouse gases. Good benefits all.

How to collect such fees? Toll booths are one approach. Another is to increase substantially fees for on-street and underground parking. (Why should an hour of on-street parking not cost the same as an hour of underground parking?)

Posted by: infoshaman | May 3, 2007 12:21 PM | Report abuse

The DC renaissance is only about 7 years old now and we are already trying to rest on our laurels. Why would we want to risk all of the recent economic development by telling businesses and their employees "go away"? We should be going out of our way to make DC the BEST place to do business, not the most onerous!

BTW - regarding a previous comment, Western Avenue is actually entirely in DC, not half DC/half MD. Its a big problem for those homeowners who live in MD, but their driveway is in DC!

Posted by: DC Dude | May 3, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm seeing lost of comments about money the feds supposedly give DC, but I thought that the payments ended back in the 1990s.

Posted by: Andrew | May 3, 2007 1:08 PM | Report abuse

1) The idea of "unfairness" to VA and MD residents seems hard to square with the "unfairness" of their not having to pay taxes to support the maintenance of DC roads. It cuts both ways.

2) Why not couple the idea of a toll/fee for driving into the downtown area during business hours and using those revenues to increase funding for Metro? In other words, have the people who place a high value on driving downtown pay to keep other people off the roads by giving them a better opportunity to use Metro?

Posted by: ah | May 3, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Posting before reading others' comments, apology for duplicating any thoughts: I am against this idea because all it does is punish people for leading productive lives. Who has control over where their employer is located? Not many people. And I will say that IF (BIG IF) the region had a decent commuter network to allow people from the suburbs a reasonably sane choice of taking public transit, be it subway, bus-ways, or commuter trains,in lieu of driving, then a commuter tax, toll, whatever, would make sense and be palatble and equitable because THERE WOULD BE ALTERNATIVES. A three hour commute from affordable housing areas, totally dependent on an undependable Metro transit system with connections that often fail (bus to bus to rail, etc), IS NOT a reasonable transportation alternative.

I WOULD be in favor of this if the revenues were used for two purposes: increasing the number of bridges across the Potomac and extending/improving/redo-ing Metro. As it is, this idea is equitable only if the DC residents have to pay a toll to get back into their city if they visit VA or MD. After all, isn't that using their roads? I won't ask for tolls for DC residents to enter VA or MD because I refuse to stoop to their level of selfishness.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 3, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Up in the Philadelphia metro area, anyone who works in the city of Philadelphia pays a 1% income tax to the city. This is in addition to whatever they pay their respective state/county/city/school (there's a school system tax too). When this was started, the city lost a few businesses... but most stayed for the address. The only reason DC doesn't have this commuter tax is because Congress doesn't want to pay it.

Posted by: Steve C | May 3, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, every local "urban center" will follow suit. If the Tysons rail extension is to be paid for with a special tax district, why not pass on some to the charges to anyone foolish enough to go there? Why shouldn't Olde Towne Alexandriae, Roslyn, Ballston, Clarendon, Merrifield, Reston Town Center and MetroWest (or whatever they call that monstrosity being build to block all meaningful access to the Vienna Metro) become gated little cities with toll booths at their entrances?

On the other hand, the truly smart way to do it would be let entering the city be for free but make everyone pay to get out.

Posted by: Vienna | May 3, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I live and work in NoVa, so I avoid DC anyways. This tax wouldn't affect me because Metro is an option for me and because you'd have to pay me to get me to cross the Potomac into that hole in the ground as is. But it's still wrongheaded...just...typical of DC politicians.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 3, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Do not confuse the bridge and tunnel tolls between Manhattan and NJ as a sole benefit to NYC. Those river crossings are controlled by the Port Authority of NY & NJ, an entity unto itself. The revenue generted by those tolls are shared equally between NY & NJ by way of the PANYNJ. I believe the revenue is put right back into the transportation grid for maintenance and improvements. It has nothing to do with discouraging drivers or punishing the residents on one side of the river.

Posted by: hov4eva | May 3, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

I am opposed to either a commuter tax or toll because there are no guarantees that the money would go to address traffic issues. And as a Virginia resident, I know that my voice in how the money should be spent would not be considered in the slightest. I think if DC wants to act like a regional entity, then it should become one, with representatives from MD, VA involved in decision making. Um, looking at WMATA's record, maybe not so good an option.

Posted by: Bob | May 3, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

DC unlike any state, gets it own appropriations bill in Congress. I am looking at the FY06 legislation which Congress continued through a CR for FY07. Tax payers across the country support highway/road programs, the DC resident tuition program, WASA, foster care programs, local court programs, the list goes on. Even $3 million for something called Marriage Development and Improvement. DC should view itself like the Smithsonian, it is for the entire country, and the entire country chips in through federal taxes. Besides, a commuter tax in the mid-atlantic will just kill the DC economy b/c there are so many other places to work in VA and MD that won't charge an arm and a leg to get to. Now stop acting like jerks.

Posted by: D | May 3, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Something a lot of you folks are forgetting is, all those years marion barry and his cronies were going thru DC $$$ like water, then trying to blame all of it on "commuters using our roads and services" really doesnt make it any better,10 years later. DC wasting it's taxpayers money makes it a CITY problem, not a regional one, as Congressman Tom Davis likes to say.

Posted by: fred | May 3, 2007 2:44 PM | Report abuse

"For all those that object, please do the following when you are in the city at work: don't use city sidewalks, don't use public trash cans, avoid use of the sewer system (i.e., don't go to the bathroom), don't call 911 if you need police or emergency assistance, and don't drive on city streets. If you need any of those services, however, maybe you should pay."

And maybe DC residents who commute to VA and MD should do the same.

This can swing both ways, so be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: CEEAF | May 3, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

What a lot of whining from commuters! As a Maryland commuter, I would be happy to see DC for once get sufficient resources to manage its roads. If we can help control congestion and lessen the environmental impact, it seems a win all around. I have little patience for people who are unwilling to pay the real costs of using DC services or think they should give VA and MD more representation in decisions in a city that already has no political independence from Congress.

Posted by: Scott | May 3, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

"As a DC resident, such a toll might encourage me to ditch the car and take Metrorail to DCA, the 5A bus to IAD, or the B30 bus to BWI. Which could lead to less congestion on the GW Parkway, I-66, or the BW-Parkway, respectively. Which, come to think of it, might be the point."

If you're willing to schlep your luggage on Metro or a bus THEN drag it around the airport, more power to you; most people can't be bothered.

Perhaps a better way to relatiate against this discriminatory and predatory back-door commuter tax would be to impose a tax on airline tickets purchased by non-residents.

Taking transit instead of driving won't help you with that.

Posted by: CEEAF | May 3, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

WHy is it that Washington's solution to everything is a tax? Seems to be this is a yet another way to tax non-DC residents for daring to be in the district. Where else is food taxed at a higher rate than the sales tax for coffer purposes? This is the same thing.

Posted by: Deb | May 3, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Interesting quote from Marion Barry in today's article. He complains about Maryland and Virginia residents not paying a nickel towards D.C. services. Last time I checked, neither has Barry. He's a far greater burden on D.C. than we are.

Posted by: skeptic | May 3, 2007 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"As a Maryland commuter, I would be happy to see DC for once get sufficient resources to manage its roads."

If you REALLY think DC would spend the money on new/improved roads or even basic maintenance, I would like to discuss the upcoming Brooklyn Bridge IPO with you.

The only thing DC would do with the money that would affect commuters would be to buy and install more traffic cameras.

Posted by: CEEAF | May 3, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Congress will not pass this bill because, as previously stated, they'll also be affected. Why not take the money and run?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

And then when the Federal Agencies` leases are up in their downtown offices, they will move out into Virginia and Maryland. Will the District being crying foul then?

Posted by: Jack | May 3, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

CEEAF, MD and VA are not the ones suggesting taxing commuters out of DC.What would kill the economy region-wide, however, is if those DC residents kept their drug money and gun dealing to themselves. Not using my local 911 for their traffic accidents would be a blessing, not a curse!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Also, when you take into consideration that the Federal Government employs over 300,000 employees who work inside of DC, I`m sure the District is receiving considerable revenues from their five-and-three-quarter percent sales tax. Not all of them are brown bagging it.

Posted by: Jack | May 3, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted above in response to CEEAF's comment "And maybe DC residents who commute to VA and MD should do the same.

This can swing both ways, so be careful what you wish for."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 3, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Jack, the sales tax on food in DC is actually 10%.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 3, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Thanks CyanSquirrel, I guess I never really realized how much I was being ripped for.

Posted by: Jack | May 3, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Congestion pricing is Not a "traffic control technique"- it is government endorsement of the rich getting richer and the poor getting screwed.
If DC wants Marylanders and Virginians to start paying DC taxes, then make DC appealing enough to live in. Schools? Nope. Crime? Nope.
What about the tourist who rides Metro in, only goes to Smithsonian sites, but pays a 10% (!) tax on his McDonald's meal?
Never mentioned in the whining about how DC can't tax this, and DC has to pay for that, are the laundry list of services that Uncle Sam picks up for DC that any other municipality has to cover. Zoo? The Fed$. Fireworks on July Fourth? The Fed$. Upkeep of Hains Point, Lincoln Park, DuPont Circle, the Mall? All Fed$. It may be only a fraction of the revenue DC would stand to gain, but ask Pittsburgh/Buffalo/Baltimore how much they'd like to have Uncle Sam take those expenses off their plates.

Posted by: Wrongamundo | May 3, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Either way, you're being taxed. Right now you pay with time spent sitting in traffic, reduced air quality, road rage, global warming, and the detrimental health benefits of a long commute. But those "taxes" you pay go to no one, serve no one, help no one. They're terribly inefficient.

Now imagine a congestion tax of $X, where X is large enough to persuade enough solo drivers to ride transit, carpool, bike, walk, move, etc..., to remove highway congestion. Now you drive straight into work - albeit by paying a financial tax (instead of the one you used to pay) This tax goes to the government to enhance transit, build bikeways & bicycle parking, plant trees, improve pedestrian facilities, etc...Even though some of the money is lost in running the system, it's still more efficient then what we have now. [If it worked like in London and other cities there would be no toll booths to slow people down - it would all be photo enforced]

Posted by: washcycle | May 3, 2007 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Yeah...10%. It's why, despite the many amazing eats in DC, I stopped patronizing DC restaurants unless someone else is paying. Virginia restaurants (and some MD ones, ok, ok many...) are just as good, and it saves me gas and in the future, tolls. a foodie, that's a hard decision to make, but 10% is where my need to dine out becomes very elastic.

Posted by: CyanSquirrel | May 3, 2007 6:22 PM | Report abuse

It's been established repeatedly that the Fed payments to DC are in lieu of the taxes that the Feds should be paying. They own a ton of land in DC and it's all tax free. The GAO has repeatedly found that the Feds should actually be paying hundreds of millions a year more to make up for the economic burden their presence causes. They even have a name for it - structural imbalance.

Posted by: Hillman | May 3, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

And, as others have pointed out, no other city in America is denied the ability to tax income at it's source. Only DC is denied this. So many cities use this revenue source as a major revenue stream. The Fed payment, or lack of, is irrelevant.

Posted by: Hillman | May 3, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Last I remember maryland and virginia donated the land to create DC. Now DC wants to charge us to go in. Balony. I oppose it on principle!!

Posted by: Prashant | May 4, 2007 12:09 AM | Report abuse

"I already have to pay ridiculous tolls in both VA and MD to get to airports..."

Ummm, question...if you're going to Dulles, why are you paying a toll? And where's the toll for National??? Did I miss the toll booths on the B-W Parkway or I-95 for BWI??? Did Richmond bring theirs back? Am I missing something? I've never paid a toll going to an airport.

Posted by: Tolls to Where? | May 4, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

"What would kill the economy region-wide, however, is if those DC residents kept their drug money and gun dealing to themselves."

Gun dealing in DC? Get your facts straight, pal. I'm no DC apoligist (quite the contrary), but I know thinly-veiled racism when I smell it.

Virginia is the place with lax gun laws. That's why the straw buyers go to VA. And that's where that nut who shot up VA Tech was able to buy one of his weapons.

Posted by: CEEAF | May 4, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

As I said, DC can keep their gun dealing. Virginia will keep its gun selling. ok. I know plenty of white, hispanics, and of course, African Americans that deal and that live in the district. Not so many hispanics, but you get my point. I choose the word deal because it connotes something illegal. And having guns in DC is illegal. What's your beef, CEEAF?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 4, 2007 5:42 PM | Report abuse

I think it is a great idea for people that do not live here pay tolls. D.C. residents alway have to suffer because MD and VA residents comute everyday here taking the jobs and spaces. You have to pay in other cites so what is the problem now? The money can go toward metro and fixing up the streets. If you don't like it stay near your home and work.

Posted by: G Walker | May 6, 2007 8:59 PM | Report abuse

HELP! Does anyone know what is happening on the Virginia side of Chain Bridge? Construction at all hours, impossible traffic tie-ups and no information to be found. Both Arlington and Fairfax counties say it isn't them. Anyone have a clue. Even VADOT has no info. Thanks!

Posted by: L. Brown | May 24, 2007 11:48 AM | Report abuse

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