The new highway would only affect a modest increase in freight traffic to Dulles, according to a study.
Virginia transportation officials say building the Bi-County Parkway
will help turn Dulles Airport into a major air cargo hub, but a new
study says a new highway may not make much difference.
The study (pdf)
by David Versel, a researcher at the George Mason University Center for
Regional Analysis, says that building a highway on the western side of
Dulles Airport will not turn it into a leading air freight hub as the
Virginia Department of Transportation hopes.
"It would definitely
be an important piece to support future expansion at Dulles. The problem
is there hasn't been an expansion," Versel says. "In fact, there has
been a decline in the amount of cargo moving in and out of Dulles over
the past 12 years."
One reason why VDOT says the Bi-County Parkway
is necessary is to improve access to Dulles from the west, for
travelers and cargo haulers. Versel's study estimates the highway would
affect only 8 percent of the potential market demand for air cargo
operations at the airport. The problem is not the road. It's the air
cargo, already dominated by other airports.
"In terms of East
Coast airports, the two leading airports for cargo activity are JFK and
Miami International Airport," Versel says. "The reason being, JFK has
the most flights per day to the most destinations in Europe and Africa.
And Miami has the most flights per day to the most destinations in Latin
Versel says air cargo has declined since the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks because of new security measures. It's simply become
easier to move things on the ground. He says if the Metropolian
Washington Airports Authority develops the land it owns on Dulles'
western side, a new road or roads might be necessary, but that might not
"The road in and of itself is not likely to have an enormous impact on cargo," Versel says.
study does not take a position on whether the Bi-County Parkway should
be built. It only analyzes the highway's potential affect on the cargo