Autumn on Lake Audobon

Autumn on Lake Audobon
Autumn on Lake Audubon, Photo by Alison Kamat

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where will all the toll road traffic go as tolls rise?

A look at yesterday’s presentation to the MWAA Finance Committee shows that CDMSmith/Wilbur Smith Associates (CDM/WSA) forecasts that traffic on the Dulles Toll Road (DTR) will drop by one-quarter over the next six years as tolls triple.  Specifically, transactions are forecast to decline from last year’s 99.9 million to 75.1 million by 2018.  (See below.)  While transactions are not identical to traffic—people going west from Reston pay only once when they use the DTR, for example—transactions and traffic levels are closely correlated. 

In 2010, the DTR handled at average of 141,000-148,000 vehicles each workday in each direction between Reston Parkway and Wiehle according to VDOT’s annual report.   The high tolls on the DTR will likely result in 35,000-37,000 vehicles diverting to the highways and streets in and around Reston.   They highways and streets that would most likely be affected would be Rt. 7, Baron Cameron/Elden, Sunset Hills/Herndon Pkwy, Sunrise Valley Dr., Lawyers/West Ox, and maybe Rt. 50. 

While there are longer term plans to widen Rt. 7, none of these highways or streets will have additional capacity to handle this traffic in the next six years.  Congestion will be dramatically worse. 

1 comment:

  1. The new draft report is progress, compared to the previous report. The drop in trips by 25% and the increased congestion are directionally correct. It is still unrealistic. Based on the cash flow analyses I've distributed widely, the tolls are likely to be $10.70 per trip, rather than $6.75 in 2018. My cash flows have never been disputed or challenged. The probable cost for a commuter from Loudoun on the Greenway and DTR would be $8,250 per year. If a commuter drives in the new HOT lanes on 495, then the cost would be over $10,000 per year. The drop in traffic on the toll roads is likely to be much greater than 25% and the DTR probably would go bankrupt like the Greenway did.

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