Public meetings on Dulles Toll Road hike kick off

Michelle Basch,

WASHINGTON – Opponents call it “Tollmageddon,” but operators of the Dulles Toll Road say big toll hikes are necessary to help pay for the Dulles Rail project.

In an open house format Thursday at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va., the first in a series of public meetings on toll increases took place. Charts were placed around the cafeteria and members of the public were invited to talk one-on-one with planners.

The current plan is to raise the combined main plaza and ramp tolls for two-axle vehicles from the current $2.25 to $4.50 by 2015.

Rob Yingling with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates the toll road, says the original plan was for an even bigger toll increase, but a pledge of about $150 million from Virginia helped lower the hike.

“Revenue from other sources and favorable loans could help us further reduce the rate of toll increases going forward, so we’re looking at all those options too,” Yingling says.

Michael Oxman was among those in attendance. He says the new Metro line is needed, but he’s concerned about funding.

“Somebody has to pay for this stuff. The question is, is there a better way to pay for it?” Oxman says.

Rich Knox thinks the rail line is a “Metro to nowhere.”

“I think the people that use it (the rail line) should pay for it,” Knox says.

Two more public meetings are planned next week in Reston and McLean.

Comments also can be submitted online or through the mail through Sept. 16, when the public comment period closes.

For more information on the hearings and to submit online comments, click here.

A group opposed to a toll increase – – is collecting signatures on a petition.

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