A round-trip on the Dulles Toll Road will likely cost $9 next year. If you travel this route to and from work, it will cost you $2,250 in after tax earnings.
This plan, which is to be recommended to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) Board in April 2012, was formally announced Wednesday. I, along with many others, have long predicted these rates, but MWAA and other rail proponents flatly denied our claims. Now the truth is clear: career politician Congressman Gerry Connolly’s (D-VA) Dulles Rail project will cost commuters dearly. Of course, in a few years, $9 will seem like a bargain as the report also suggested that tolls will need to increase to nearly $14 by 2018, bringing the annual commuter cost to $3,375. Those tolls are on top of the national, state, and local funds that are being used to pay for 43% of the project.
It is worth noting that the tolls collected since 1984 have more than paid for the construction costs of the Dulles Toll Road; if it weren’t for Rep. Connolly’s efforts to push the Dulles Rail project, the tolls likely would have been lifted almost a decade ago. Instead, we can expect tolls to keep rising for the foreseeable future.
What do we get for these fees? Current estimates suggest that the Metrorail trip from Dulles Airport to downtown will take well over an hour, twice the normal time by a car or express bus. Much of the traffic from the Dulles Toll Road is likely to divert onto Route 7, Route 50, I-66, and other roads. And whereas the proponents of the rail system predicted new development, we instead see firms like Accenture moving away from the area.
Connolly is now pushing for this same flawed policy for the I-66 and I-95 corridors. Heavy rail is an expensive technology that is not suited for suburban areas.
We need new answers to our problems. We need leaders who can make wise decisions. For the cost of building Phase II of Dulles Rail, we could build over 200 miles of bus rapid transit (BRT). Instead of Dulles Rail, we could build a state-of-the-art network connecting Dulles Airport, Alexandria, Bethesda, Centreville, Manassas, Springfield, Woodbridge, DC, and other locations while integrating with the existing Metrorail system. There are many other solutions as well, but as we are now seeing, Metrorail is simply cost-prohibitive.
A $6+ billion project may not seem like much when we are dealing with trillion-dollar annual deficits under President Obama and his Democratic allies like Rep. Connolly, but residents of the Dulles Corridor will feel the direct and immediate impact of this project. In fact, the rail project equates to more than a $20,000 loan per worker in the Dulles Corridor, whereas Obama’s 2013 budget imposes only a $6,000 loan per worker. This will have a huge negative impact on the disposable income for local residents and businesses.
I have dedicated much of my adult life to transportation issues through my experience as a transportation engineer. This expertise will be useful in my campaign and in Congress, should I have the honor of serving as your Representative.