Driving the Dulles Toll Road could triple by 2018

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

TYSONS CORNER, Va. – Drivers on the Dulles Toll Road could soon see rates jump, as they shoulder the financial burden of the massive Dulles Rail project.

Toll road revenue is being counted on to finance 75 percent of the second phase of the project — the section that will run from Reston to Dulles International Airport, and continue into Loudoun County.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority received a briefing Wednesday that shows tolls for a one-way trip may have to jump from $2.25 to $4.50 next year and go up to about $7 by 2018.

Previous estimates have shown that a one way trip on the toll road could jump to about $11 by 2030. Right now, drivers pay $2.25 for a one way trip on the toll road.

Toll Road revenue is being used to finance a large portion of the second phase of Dulles Rail. The one way trip cost takes into account the toll at the mainline toll plaza and an off ramp.

“With a lot of bonds paid off way, way in the future (for the project), the tolls keep going up long after you finish it,” says Airports Authority Boardmember Robert Clarke Brown, talking about the financing structure of the project.

“No one ever wants to pay tolls — we know that. But how do you balance the complaining versus the needs of keeping the project going?”

How high or low the toll rates on the toll road go depends largely on how much additional revenue the invested parties — Fairfax and Loudoun counties, the Commonwealth of Virginia, MWAA and the federal government — are able to come up with.

At the moment, the price tag for the second phase of the project is expected to come in around $2.8 billion.

While the Airports Authority will be getting new toll rate projections it doesn’t mean a decision on toll increases will come immediately.

“We will not be making a toll recommendation. The process to decide what the next toll rate will be will take several months,” says MWAA spokesperson Tara Hamilton.

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