Dulles Toll Road windfall likely due to mild winter

WTOP File Photo/Amanda Iacone
The Dulles Toll Road recorded 15.1 million individual transactions in January and February, with 88.8 percent of the toll revenue through E-ZPass electronic tolling. (WTOP File Photo/Amanda Iacone)
WTOP File Photo/Amanda Iacone

WASHINGTON — More people are using the Dulles Toll Road this year compared to 2016, and a lack of snow could be playing a role.

Drivers paid about $12 million in tolls in January and more than $11 million in February. The $23 million total is more than what was paid during the same months in 2015 or 2016.

The toll road recorded 15.1 million individual transactions over that two-month period this year, with 88.8 percent of the toll revenue through E-ZPass electronic tolling. That is 3.6 percent more trips than forecast, and 4.9 percent more revenue.

With less snow this winter and some other savings, spending on the road is 23.5 percent below what the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority had expected — at just $4.2 million for the first two months of the year.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates Reagan National and Dulles International airports as well as the Dulles Toll Road and the Dulles Access Road. It is also responsible for construction of the Silver Line.

Similar snow savings have helped the airport side, too. Total aviation revenue for the airports authority was near forecasts at $120.8 million.

But operating expenses are about 19 percent lower than last year at this time, and about 19 percent below budget forecasts, Chief Financial Officer Andy Rountree said.

“Of course our forecast always anticipates that we’re going to have some weather events in January and February, which did not materialize,” said Rountree. From an expense standpoint, he said: “We saved in overtime. We saved in materials and supplies. We saved in some contractual services.”

The airports authority did spend some additional money this winter on overtime for police and operations at Dulles during protests over President Donald Trump’s travel ban, but it did not have significant budget impacts.

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