Tolls Are Biggest Silver Line Issue, Not Unions, Residents Say | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Tolls Are Biggest Silver Line Issue, Not Unions, Residents Say

Play associated audio
Rates on the Dulles Toll Road could go from their current $1.50 to higher than $6.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeymanley/4770101560/
Rates on the Dulles Toll Road could go from their current $1.50 to higher than $6.

A Virginia citizens group says the most critical issue surrounding the construction of Phase 2 of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles Airport is tolls, which are projected to rise to $6 or more on the Dulles Toll Road.

A pro-union provision proposed by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority got most of the attention this week, when federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood held a closed door meeting with the Silver Line stakeholders to try to resolve disputes over the $2.7 billion project. The Reston Citizens Association, which represents 58,000 residents in Fairfax County, says the controversy over whether bidding contractors should receive a preference for choosing union labor is not as important as toll projections on the Dulles Toll Road. Those tolls are supposed to pay off the project’s debt over the next 40 years under the current funding structure.

In a letter sent Friday to Secretary LaHood, Terry Maynard, who sits on the association’s board of directors, said this week’s efforts to resolve the dispute over union labor "barely touch on the most critical issue of the construction of Phase 2 of the Silver Line: three-quarters of the cost of Phase 2 of the rail line’s construction will be borne by the 100,000 or so users of the Dulles Toll Road, many of them Reston residents. The result will be that toll road users will end up paying more than half of the nearly $6 billion total cost of the Silver Line."

In an interview with WAMU, Maynard said projected high tolls are one of many outstanding issues surrounding Phase 2 of the largest mass transit project in the country at the moment.

"It is not being addressed. That’s specifically the reason why I wrote this letter on behalf of our committee to Secretary LaHood," said Maynard, who said motorists' tolls would pay for three-quarters of the project's cost unless the funding structure is changed.

"We’ve always called for toll road users to pay a quarter of the cost. This goes back to the 2004 federal environmental impact statement that had that percentage in it," he said.

In his letter, Maynard said "a regular commuter who now pays less than $1,000 per year in tolls will see that cost rise to more than $8,000 per year in 2048 or more than $3,000 per year by 2028 in today’s dollars."

Virginia Delegate Barbara Comstock (R), who sponsored legislation to withdraw her state’s funding commitment over the pro-union provision, said Phase 2 will not happen if MWAA maintains the PLA, or project labor agreement, which would give contractors a ten percent bonus on their technical evaluation scores if they opt for a union workforce.

"The law requires that they have to have a level playing field to compete.  It is not something that negotiable," she said.  "The governor has said from the outset that they would have to have a level playing field."

An MWAA spokeswoman said CEO Jack Potter was not available for comment, but she did release a statement. 

"We’re working with our partners on the PLA issue and no decisions have been made regarding tolls at this time," said MWAA spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs in the statement.

Comstock said no major decisions should be made about Phase 2’s fate until a midterm audit by an inspector general is released May 15.

"It will be a critical time to stop and take a look at what this audit is telling us about [MWAA’s] management practices so we can make improvements, do the best for the taxpayers to keep tolls down, and keep the costs of the project down," she said.

NPR

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.
NPR

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.
WAMU 88.5

With Protest Against Congressman, Activists Take A Stand For D.C. Home Rule

This protest was presumably about marijuana decriminalization, but home rule seemed to be the overarching theme.
NPR

The Weird, Underappreciated World Of Plastic Packaging

So much of the food we eat these days is encased in plastic. And behind it is a whole lot of research and innovation. We dive into some of the materials that keep food fresh and portable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.