Reston Spring

Reston Spring
Reston Spring

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dulles Toll Road Fact Sheet #2: Traffic Diversion, March 11, 2012

Reston Citizens Association
Reston 2020 Committee
March 9, 2012 (Rev: May 20, 2012)

Dulles Toll Road
Fact Sheet #2:  Traffic Diversion to Local Roads

Put Dulles rail finances on the right track,
Not on the toll road user’s back!

Are you ready for nearly 10,000 more cars per day on Reston’s streets?

If CDM Smith’s most recent traffic and revenue forecast (January 2012) is correct, about 34,000 vehicle trips per day will be added to the Dulles corridor’s local roads next year.  That includes some 9,800 trips per day added to Reston’s streets by our conservative estimate.  By mid-century, high tolls will see more than 100,000 added trips daily on local roads if MWAA’s official forecast is near accurate.

Smith projects an 18% reduction in Dulles Toll Road (DTR) transactions next year if tolls double to $4.50 as forecast.  With recent gross average daily traffic counts on the toll road running at some 189,000 vehicles per day (based on 2010 VDOT report), 34,000 vehicles will divert to local roads.  We expect 7,100 local Reston vehicles will avoid the DTR while another 2,700—ten percent of the total traffic diverted outside Reston—will add to Reston’s congestion.  In fact, two-thirds of the diversions are likely to occur in Loudoun County, and we would expect much of that traffic to take Rt. 7.

In the future, the traffic diversion problem becomes much worse as population and employment grows along the Dulles Corridor as the graphic below reflects.  Using MWAA’s official job and population forecasts for the primary Metrorail market through 2050, and discounting them generously to account for the availability of the SIlver Line, other public transit, and less driving, we anticipate that the number of trips diverted from the Dulles Toll Road because of high tolls will grow to more than 100,000 per day--a range of between 80,000 and 120,000 trips per day.  These trips would be absorbed by the toll road if the tolls remain constant in 2012 dollar terms.

Adding traffic to Reston and other Dulles corridor community roads is a very bad idea.  
  • These roads are already congested—most of the nearby parallel roads in Reston carry an “F” grade for Level of Service (LOS)—and adding traffic will only aggravate congestion.  
  • The County has no money and no plans to maintain, much less improve, any of these intensely trafficked alternative routes while it continues to complain to Richmond about its transportation funding needs in the short term.  
  • It is an especially bad idea since there are no real public transportation options.  Phase 1 Metrorail service won’t begin until at least December 2013, and no area bus service improvements are planned.  
  • Longer term, it is difficult to imagine that sufficient improvement could be made to the area’s roads--because of either physical or financial constraints--to prevent a serious deterioration in the area’s already serious traffic congestion.  
  • On the other hand, the Dulles Toll Road will more and more become “The Highway of the One Percent” as only the wealthy are able to afford the skyrocketing tolls.

Asking Dulles corridor drivers to absorb 63% of the cost of completing rail to Dulles is a very bad idea for drivers and our communities.  Our leaders need to find alternative funding sources for the bulk the $2.8 billion Phase 2 construction cost ($2.1 billion now planned from tolls).  We believe toll road users should absorb no more than 25% of the cost as planned in 2004.  Until then, Phase 2 needs to be put on hold.  


  1. If phase II gets placed on hold, it will strand the End-of-The-Line for the Silver Line at Wiehle Ave. Can you image how many Loudoun County commuters will drive to, and PARK in, our Reston neighborhoods? I say get the Silver Line through Reston as quickly as possible!

  2. You could be right, Anonymous, but this is not a certainty by any means.

    First, just because Phase 1 is built to Wiehle doesn't mean that the station needs to be open for business. Commuter service could stop in Tysons.

    While that's not likely, there are already proposals to create parking districts in the neighborhoods around the Wiehle station. Vehicles with district parking stickers (residents) can park on the streets, but those without receive tickets that probably won't make that worthwhile.

    More problematic is parking in private lots near the Wiehle station, both commercial and residential. I know of one townhouse neighborhood there that already has a neighborhood parking sticker requirement. If you do not display one, your car gets towed. I would expect the businesses in the Wiehle area would follow a similar tack by allowing parking for no more than (say) three hours for cars without stickers in their parking lots and tagging cars to track the time. After the 3-hour grace period, un-stickered cars get towed.

    In short, there are ways to stop commuters from parking at inappropriate places near the Wiehle station.


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