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Key vote could affect price of Dulles Toll Road tolls

Friday - 4/13/2012, 9:10am  ET

Hank Silverberg, wtop.com

RICHMOND, Va. - A key vote in the Virginia General Assembly next week could determine how much commuters pay to travel one of the region's biggest roadways.

Both the House and Senate will vote on Virginia's $85 billion budget. Democrats are circulating an online petition aimed at Gov. Bob McDonnell to discourage the toll hike. The petition says the increase would cost the average commuter $2,200 a year.

Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road could triple by 2018. Tolls for a one-way trip could jump from $2.25 to $4.50 next year and go up to about $7 by 2018.

Some Democrats are calling for hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to be restored as part of the budget. The money could be used to mitigate toll hikes on the Dulles Toll Road and help finance construction for the second phase of Metro's Silver line.

But House Speaker Bill Howell predicts the budget will likely be approved as is.

"I don't see how people vote against the conference report based solely on the fact we're not issuing this $400 million bill for toll mitigation. There are too many other good things in it to outweigh that," he says.

Some Northern Virginia leaders have expressed concern that higher tolls will drive commuters onto local roads, including Route 7, further exacerbating the region's already snarled traffic.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)