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Tolls fund rising Metro costs

As the soon-to-open Silver Line sets its sights west to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, documents show that Dulles Toll Road users are paying an increasing portion of the rail project's costs.

Tolls were projected in 2004 to cover about 25 percent of the Silver Line's construction costs, according to an agreement between the state and the contractors.

But toll road users are covering nearly twice that, according to an analysis by The Washington Post.

The amount covered by tolls isn't capped and could go higher. A $2 billion federal loan agreement that was recently approved is intended to spare drivers from paying more.

Watchdog groups and several local elected officials are lobbying to stop additional toll increases as a revenue source for escalating construction costs of the line.

The Silver Line is the nation's largest and most expensive public works project at an estimated cost of just under $6 billion.

The first phase of the Silver Line – seven months late and $150 million over budget – is scheduled to open July 26. It extends Metro 11.5 miles from West Falls Church to Tysons Corner to its terminus at Wiehle Station in Reston.

The first phase has cost $2.9 billion, with bills still coming in.

The second phase of the Silver Line, an 11.7 mile extension to the airport and stations at Route 606 and Route 772 in Loudoun County, is projected for completion in 2018

Construction on the second phase is expected to start soon at an estimated cost of $2.7 billion.

Delays, cost overruns and public response to increasing tolls have raised anew questions about financing the project and the impact on taxpayers and toll road users.

Since construction began five years ago there have been five toll increases, raising a typical round trip for commuters from $2.50 to $7. At a monthly cost for weekday commuters, the typical cost has risen from $50 to $140 a month.

The rising tolls have caused some motorists to suspend or reduce their use of the toll road and seek alternative routes on non-toll highways.

Still, tolls remain the primary source of funding for the Silver Line.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees construction, moved to mitigate the burden on commuters and tolls with the $2 billion federal loan package that was approved in April. MMWA said the loan would enable it to freeze tolls until 2018.

Toll road users would have borne a higher share of the Silver Line's costs – 52 percent, according to The Post – if the loan had been approved.

Loudoun County supervisors agreed to the county's share of the loan in May. Under a 2007 funding agreement, Loudoun and Fairfax counties and the airports authority committed to covering 25 percent of the project's total costs. The federal government committed $900 million to the first phase.

One Loudoun legislator, Del. David LaRock (R-33), has led a campaign to stem the reliance on tolls to finance construction costs. LaRock maintains the Silver Line has been put on the backs of toll road users. He supported the low-interest federal loan and is working to freeze further toll road rate increases


more cowbell - My neighbors all being working professionals want it and understand that there is a special zone business tax paying for the metro and our property tax remains the same either way yet we improve the county and the prospect of tech jobs moving here with a metro.

Long overdue - 20+ are happy in other neighborhoods

@Fedupdude, The polling I did, asking neighbors, not 1 out of 20+ thought it was a good idea. That’s 10 families that have lived in Loudoun over 20 years. Polling data is usually wrong becaus of the way they ask the question…. Would you rather have metro to Loudoun or pay $100 million in taxes….

65% of people said yes to metro according to polling data. When is the last time you read of a national political race having a 65% vote in favor.

@Fedupdude, actually, most of Loudoun doesn’t want Metro. It’s not conventient to where majority of people live. It’s expensive and slow. Factor in all the down times for trains, security and the over paid chiefs…

You guys realize the majority of Loudoun wants the metro right? Your comments about taxes are fantasy. I grew up in Fairfax and then lined in Arlington and Alexandria, adding metro in Fairfax did not make some drastic increase in the budget.

Fear mongering nonsense.

One could have just driven the extra 3-4 miles (maybe) from the east most Ashburn metro station to the metro station at Dulles Airport. Result would have been $0 tax impact on Loudoun taxpayers. Think property taxes are high now… wait til 2018/2019 with Metro being so inefficient. How much millions does Metro spend on Repair and Maintenance which will be passed to Loudoun taxpayers. Also the parking garages, who will pay for that ? You guessed it us taxpayers of Loudoun.

We could have literally gotten a free ride by just driving to the Dulles Airport station, but Ken Reid can’t make up his mind like a little girl. 

Actually, this is all Ken Reid’s fault.  There is no reason why the Sliver Line had to come into Loudoun County, when the end point was siting right at the boarder of Loudoun and Fairfax.  Ken Reid stabbed all of his political supporters in the back with this flip-flop vote on the Loudoun portion of the Silver Line.  I continue to wonder who will be challenging Ken Reid next year for the republican nomination.  Someone needs to.

I am pro Metro. However someone needs to put the Airport Authority in check.

The vast majority of Loudoun wants the metro and its important to bring the tech jobs out our way and out of Fairfax county where the majority of our residents work.

About 30+ years ago we were told the Dulles toll road would go away once it was paid for. It’s been paid for, yet the tolls stay and go up every year. Another lie from our corrupt politicians in Richmond. If only Northern Va were able to keep more of its tax money…If only our nothern va representatives had a pair….

Perhaps it would be better to end this politician’s train wreck at Dulles and not have it come further into Loudoun County. Then the Supervisors can do what they would/should have done in the first place had it not been for “Flip-Flop Ken Reid changing his vote 15 minutes before the vote to support the extension was made, unless Reid is a complete liar and planned to vote to support the extension all along while telling many of us that he was against it.

I think you sorta misstate Delegate LaRock’s position.  He was actually very, very (as in sticking signs along roadsides) active trying to block Metro altogether. 

I’m sure maybe 10-15% of Loudoun thinks that’s a brilliant strategy.

The rest of us just wonder where ideas like that come from…

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