Autumn on Lake Audobon

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

Monday, April 2, 2012

High Dulles tolls will mean more traffic on local roads for decades

                                                                 Reston Citizens Association
Reston 2020 Committee
April 2, 2012

Reston 2020 Reports High Tolls Will Add 30,000 Vehicles per Day
To Dulles Corridor Area Local Roads

In a brief report issued today, the Reston Citizen Association’s Reston 2020 Committee, a citizens volunteer committee focused on Reston’s future development, notes that official reports indicate that the high tolls forecast for the Dulles Toll Road will drive a large number of cars to local roads.  The report, “The Dulles Corridor Transportation Planning Fail:  Toll-Driven Traffic Diversion Will Exceed New Rail Ridership,” calculates that: 
  • Daily traffic on corridor-area roads will jump by at least 30,000 vehicles per workday in 2014, the first full year of Silver Line Phase 1 operation, with forecast tolls at $4.50 each way. 
  • Daily traffic volumes on local roads will increase by 25,000-35,000 or more in 2030 when tolls will be at $10.75 each way. 
These forecasts do not include the added impact of projected population and job growth along the Dulles Corridor on local road use.

The short assessment is based on the traffic and revenue forecast issued by CDM Smith in early February 2012 and the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA’s) annual progress report on the construction of Phase 1 of the Silver Line. 
  • The CDM Smith forecast indicates that Dulles Toll Road use will drop by 18% next year as result of a doubling of tolls and will continue to drop substantially as tolls multiply.  The result is that about 35,000 vehicles per day will be diverted to local roads starting next year, and that number grows to 50,000 per day in 2023 before beginning to recede.
  • The annual FTA report has for a number of years indicated that Silver Line usage in 2030 will be about 85,700 riders per workday, but only about 10,000 of them will be new transit riders.  The last time a higher forecast for new Silver Line ridership occurred was in 2006 when the project was put at 18,400.  First-year ridership was put at 69,600 per day in 2006 with no indication how many would be new riders.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Reston 2020 Co-Chair Tammi Petrine remarked, “The report highlights how awry transportation planning has gone.  Anytime a six-billion dollar public transit system generates more congestion on local roads, we see an abysmal failure.  The huge problem is the outrageous tolls that will be needed if toll road users are forced to fund three-quarters of Silver Line Phase 2 construction.  Substantial funding from other sources must be found before we proceed with Phase 2 even though RCA and Reston 2020 want Metrorail completed quickly.  Under no circumstances should Toll road users be paying more than one quarter of the line’s overall cost.”

Terry Maynard, the author of the short report, noted, “It is regrettable, if not irresponsible, for Fairfax County not to carry out and publish these kinds of impact assessments as part of a systematic due diligence effort.  The citizens of Fairfax County—including Reston—deserve better.  In the absence of an appropriate professional Fairfax County review of the impacts of the current Metrorail funding agreement, we will continue to assess Silver Line funding arrangements with the volunteer resources and the best public information available in the most objective way we know how.“

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