In his Aug. 14 report to the Reston Citizens Association's 20/20 Committee, retired federal economist Terry Maynard outlined in stark detail what's ahead for Dulles Toll Road commuters. Citing data from CDM Smith, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's traffic and revenue forecasting consultant, Maynard warned:
To pay for Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail project,
» One-way tolls will double from $2.25 to $4.50 next year;
» Tolls will triple to $6.75 within five years;
» Tolls will quadruple to $8.75 within the decade;
» Tolls will rise steadily thereafter until they reach $18.75 by 2048.
"And no one -- not even Congress, which created MWAA -- has the authority to prevent MWAA from making these massive toll increases under current law," Maynard noted. MWAA can jack up tolls even higher without permission from any controlling legal authority.
Maynard predicts that total outlays for Dulles Corridor commuters will skyrocket from less than $1,000 per year now to more than $8,000 by 2048, consuming nearly half (48 percent) of their future after-tax income growth. But few workers will be willing or able to spend half of all their future raises to drive on a 14-mile road -- a road that their taxes have already paid for many times over. Maynard expects 36,000 vehicles each day to divert to congested local roads to avoid the tolls -- a traffic nightmare that will begin in just three years.
"That number will more than double by 2030 ... and nearly triple (103k trips per day) by 2050," Maynard noted. "Only the very wealthy or those on expense accounts will be able to use the toll road. It will become 'The Highway of the One Percent.' "
Another huge problem is with the $1.3 billion in bonds that MWAA has already sold to finance Phase 1 of the Silver Line. They have junk bond status -- a 6 percent interest rate. MWAA has deferred paying interest on the bonds until after 2016 -- just when drivers start deserting the toll road in droves. Without the revenue, MWAA will be in danger of default. Fairfax and Loudoun taxpayers -- who have had no say about MWAA's ever-rising tolls -- would then be expected to bail it out.
The solution to this intolerable situation is obvious. Congress must correct its original sin of omission and change the law so that MWAA or any other body with such enormous power to tax has to answer to the people.