Reston Citizens Association
Contact: Terry Maynard
May 9, 2012
RCA’s Reston 2020 Committee calls fair Silver Line construction
cost sharing, not PLAs, the critical issue in the line’s success
In a new white paper called “Rail to Dulles and “'The Highway of the One Percent,'” the Reston Citizens Association’s (RCA’s) Reston 2020 Committee calls the more than an 800% increase in highway tolls in the years ahead the most critical problem in the Silver Line’s success. It says the political and media attention given the PLA dispute is misplaced and the issue is basically irrelevant.
Reston 2020 says the huge toll increases will cost regular Fairfax County toll road users almost half of any real income gains over the next four decades as tolls approach $20 one-way and take $17 billion out of the local economy. Official forecasts indicate that, as a result, 30,000 or more vehicles per day will divert to congested local roads next year when tolls double. By mid-century, high tolls will lead some 80,000-120,000 potential drivers to desert the toll road, turning it into a “Highway of the One Percent.”
The exorbitant tolls proposed are also likely to force companies and families to re-think any plans to move to the Dulles Corridor, the white paper says. In an era of extreme corporate cost-consciousness, companies will far be less likely to move to or pay premiums for space in an area where their customers and employees must pay a huge transportation premium just to get there. Many families will avoid the more than $8,000 yearly cost that commuters and other regular toll road users would need to pay.
Consistent with its longstanding advocacy for the Silver Line, Reston 2020 calls for those who will benefit financially from its operation to be its principal investors. It proposes that in addition to toll road users, station area landowners and the local funding jurisdictions—MWAA, Fairfax, and Loudoun counties—share equally in the cost of the line not yet funded by Washington or Richmond. That means about $1.5 billion and a 26.5% share for each in this cost sharing arrangement to cover the unfunded portion of the line’s estimated $5.7 billion cost.
“The Silver Line is an investment in the future of Reston and the Dulles Corridor,” said RCA President Colin Mills. “In order for it to succeed, everyone needs to step up to the plate and do their part. We can't put the bulk of the burden on the toll road users' back. That's not fair, and it's not good planning."
Tammi Petrine and John Hanley, Co-Chairs of Reston 2020, both urged US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to include Reston Citizens Association and other corridor citizens groups in his stakeholder discussions to help ensure a fair financing arrangement that would allow the Dulles Corridor to thrive. “Reston needs Metrorail,” Petrine added, “but not at toll costs that would choke its growth and streets, and the Secretary’s intervention is our best chance to make that happen.”
“With the huge economic benefits others have forecast for the Silver Line, some $25 billion over 30 years in Loudoun County alone according Dr. Stephen Fuller of GMU’s Center for Regional Analysis,” the report’s drafter Terry Maynard commented, “it’s hard to believe that businesses along the corridor wouldn’t be willing to invest $1.5 billion to help ensure the line’s success.”