There are only a few days left before fee increases go into effect on the Dulles Toll Road.
Beginning Jan. 1, at the main line plaza, tolls will rise from $3.25 to $4 for two-axle vehicles, $6.50 to $8 for three-axle vehicles, $7.75 to $9.25 for four-axle vehicles, and $9 to $10.50 for five-axle vehicles.
The increase was approved by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Board of Directors earlier this year. This is the first fee increase since 2019.
“Strategic debt management and refinancing efforts have kept toll rates lower than original projections through the years,” MWAA wrote in a statement.
The next toll increase will go into effect on 2028. Overall, hikes are expected every five years, according to MWAA. Increases are expected to continue through 2058.
At the ramps, tolls will increase from $1.25 to $2 for two-axle vehicles, $3 to $4 for three-axle vehicles, $3.50 to $4.50 for four-axle vehicles, and $4 to $5 for five-axle vehicles.
Toll booths will also be eliminated in the coming months, with the system switching to fully electronic payments.
Revenue from the tolls funds operating and maintenance costs, along with a portion of the construction costs for Silver Line. Service for the extension began in mid-November.
Drivers on the Dulles Toll Road can expect to pay higher tolls beginning next year.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Board of Directors voted yesterday morning to increase fees for users of the toll road — bringing tolls to $6 for the average driver.
The increase is expected to cover highway operations and maintenance costs, along with a dedicated set-aside for phase two of the Silver Line, which opened Tuesday (Nov. 15). The increase does not directly fund cost overruns associated with the project and has long been anticipated as part of a long-term funding plan.
At the main line plaza, tolls will rise from $3.25 to $4 for two-axle vehicles, $6.50 to $8 for three-axle vehicles, $7.75 to $9.25 for four-axle vehicles, and $9 to $10.50 for five-axle vehicles.
At the ramps, tolls will increase from $1.25 to $2 for two-axle vehicles, $3 to $4 for three-axle vehicles, $3.50 to $4.50 for four-axle vehicles, and $4 to $5 for five-axle vehicles.
The next toll increases is slated for 2028, according to MWAA’s board. “Modest” toll rate hikes are generally expected every five years, MWAA wrote in a statement.
MWAA also plans to collect a $1.60 administrative fee to process tolls for drivers who do not pay with the EZPass. The move comes as the toll road makes a shift to all electronic collections next year.
MWAA plans to eliminate toll boots at existing toll lanes in the coming months.
“Eliminating toll booths is expected to speed traffic flow and benefit the environment by reducing emissions that would have been produced by vehicles waiting in toll-booth lines,” MWAA wrote in a statement.
A plan to increase tolls on the Dulles Toll Road and eliminate the option to pay by cash is barreling towards approval next month.
At a meeting late last week, a board committee unanimously approved both proposals. Tolls would generally rise from $3.25 to $4 at the main line plaza and from $1.50 to $2 on ramps. Similar increases are proposed for vehicles with three or more axles.
The change would go into effect after a public comment period closed earlier this year.
The next toll increase is expected in 2028 while the last toll increase happened in 2019.
Staff noted that so me residents opposed the use of tolls for additional costs associated with the Silver Line and the Dulles Metrorail Project.
“While many of the comments oppose the current allocation of responsibility for funding construction of the Dulles Metrorail Project, that allocation reflects policy decisions and agreements made at the federal, state and regional level over many years,” staff wrote in a statement.
The board will also consider collecting an administrative fee for vehicles that choose the pay-by-plate payment option. The fee — $1.60 per transaction– is not intended to generate any revenue.
The move comes after MWAA transitions from cash payments and moves towards payment via E-ZPass and mobile applications. Residents will have 30 days to pay the toll.
If approved, both proposals would go into effect on Jan. 1.
As the county officially approves paying an additional $40 million to finish the Silver Line Phase II, fare evasion continues to irk supervisors.
At yesterday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the county followed through on the transportation committee’s recommendation last month to pay an additional $40.25 million to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) for the completion of the Silver Line Phase II.
As noted at the Sept. transportation committee meeting, the board didn’t have much choice in the matter. In July, MWAA agreed to increase the budget for the extension by $250 million which will be largely shouldered by Dulles Toll Road users. Because the original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the overage, the county owed an additional $40.25 million.
Last month, Board Chair Jeff McKay expressed his frustration about paying even more money for the much-delayed project but noted that it was a “requirement” and the county didn’t have the flexibility to not pay it “without significant negative consequences.”
At yesterday’s meeting, though, McKay struck a slightly different tone by focusing on the Silver Line Phase II’s potential to be a “game-changer” for the region.
“We can’t understate the importance of this project to the long-term success of Fairfax County,” McKay said. “It’s a major milestone.”
There remains no set date for when the line will be ready for riders, though Metro confirmed to FFXnow yesterday that it’s on track to open by Thanksgiving with the go-ahead to add more trains.
The supervisors also took a few moments at this week’s meeting to discuss Metro’s plans to stop fare evasion. Earlier this month, Metro announced it was ramping up enforcement and will be testing new station fare gates that are more difficult to jump over.
Metro estimates that fare evasion has cost the agency about $40 million this year, or nearly a quarter of its budget gap.
Several supervisors noted that they were pleased there was finally movement on better enforcement of fare evasion. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said there are certainly “equity issues” when it comes to enforcement, but “it has to be a level playing field.”
However, Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust called fare evasion the “least of [Metro’s] challenges” in terms of securing long-term funding for a system that could be facing a $500 million funding gap next year.
“They need a plan that goes way beyond [dealing] with fare evasion,” said Foust.
Phase II of the Silver Line is still on track for opening by Thanksgiving, according to a Metro spokesperson.
The news comes after a key hang-up for the opening of nearly 11-mile extension — the need for more trains — was resolved today (Tuesday) after the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission announced its approval of Metro’s plan to bring back more its 7000-series trains.
Metro’s General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Randy Clarke welcome the approval of its plan — although an exact opening date still remains elusive. Last week, Metro announced it hoped to open the extension to Dulles International Airport in time for Thanksgiving travel.
“With this approval and close collaboration on the Silver Line extension safety report, Metro will be able to set an opening date in the near future,” Clarke wrote in a statement.
Several safety issues and approvals are still needed.
In a statement last week, Metro said it was awaiting the WMSC’s approval of its return to service plan and disagreed with the commission’s methodology to determine the safety of the trains. At the time, Metro anticipated opening in time for Thanksgiving travel.
In an Oct. 17 letter to Metro, WMSC’s deputy CEO and Sharmila Samarasinghe said that its previous plan was not supported by “available safety information.” Those issues have now been largely resolved.
But the WMSC still needs to complete its concurrence of the project. Metro is still working through a number of open items to obtain WMSC’s concurrence the project, a WMSC spokesperson said.
Final approvals from the Federal Transit Administration are also needed.
More from WMSC on the technicalities of the approval to the overall return to service plan, after the jump:
But the opening of the long-anticipated and long-delayed extension into Loudoun County is pending security certifications from the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. Metro says it also still needs more trains to officially support the extension.
“We committed for the Silver Line extension to being operationally ready for the Silver Line extension in October, and we have met our deadline,” Metro General Manager and CEO Randy Clarke said. “Since control of the extension was turned over to Metro, we and our partners at the Airports Authority, Fairfax, and Loudoun have worked diligently to complete all of the steps needed for Metro to offer safe and reliable service for rail travel to Dulles Airport and Loudoun County, and we are just awaiting concurrence from our Safety Commission partners.”
The WMSC still needs to provide approvals of two submissions: a return-to-service plan for 7000-series railcars and a safety certification report on the extension project. The commission formally rejected Metro’s new return-to-service plan for its 7000-series rail cars.
“Metro does not view the final Silver Line safety certification report as a barrier to preparing for the opening of passenger service before Thanksgiving holiday travel,” Metro said in a statement.
Last month, Metro’s senior safety and operations officials said they were concerned about the safety of moving cars from other crowded lines for new service, citing the need for more trains.
Metro says that it’s confused by WMSC’s rejection of its plan, noting the following:
The letter indicates that there are differences in the track interface with trains on Blue/Orange/Silver lines that require monitoring, then indicates permission to run on those lines temporarily, but offers no metrics for successful completion;
The letter implies that Metro could swap axles to increase the fleet; however, that is operationally infeasible and would impact Metro’s ability to safely and efficiently manage its fleet, as well as changes many variables at once;
WMSC approved in December 2021 the use of the 7K fleet on all rail lines, and is now using the same data analysis to justify fleet restrictions, with no definitive root cause identified in the NTSB investigation.
Metro took control of the project from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in June. The project’s completion has been delayed several times over the last two years.
In a statement, WMSC spokesperson Max Smith said the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has “not yet” submitted any documentation to get the necessary safety certification for the Silver Line extension:
Metrorail has since been conducting the additional work needed to prepare for a safe opening of the line. Metrorail is responsible for completing its safety certification of the project in accordance with its safety procedures. Metrorail still has open items in this process, and has not completed its safety certification of Silver Line Phase 2. After Metrorail completes its process, it will submit that information to the WMSC for our concurrence – based on our spot checks, regular meetings and other work over the last three years – that Metrorail has carried out this safety process in accordance with its procedures. As Metrorail has not yet completed all open items, Metrorail has not yet submitted this documentation and request. There is nothing pending before the WMSC.
Smith added that Metro hasn’t submitted any revisions to its return-to-service plan for the 7000 series trains that have mostly been offline since a Blue Line derailment last October.
WMSC says it sent Metro a letter on Monday (Oct. 17) explaining that a plan it submitted on Sept. 28, and then again without revision last Thursday (Oct. 13), “is not supported by all available safety data.”
“The letter also reiterates specific examples of options for Metrorail that are supported by the available data,” Smith said. Read More
Two people died in a moped crash on the Dulles Toll Road near the exit to Trap Road last night (Wednesday).
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority police responded to a report of a single-vehicle crash with multiple injuries in the toll road’s westbound lanes at 9:40 p.m., MWAA said in a statement to FFXnow.
The arriving officers found a moped and one person who was dead in the roadway. A second person was transported to a hospital with critical injuries and later died, according to MWAA.
Police have identified the man found dead at the scene as 23-year-old Nyjell Dae Quan Lewis from D.C. The person who died at the hospital was 20-year-old Kia Renee Hobbs from Suitland, Maryland, according to the authority, which says she is “presumed to be a passenger on the moped.”
“The Dulles Toll Road was closed during the crash reconstruction,” MWAA said. “The case is still under investigation, and no charges have been filed. With the investigation ongoing, we can’t answer any further questions at this time.”
Though MWAA has characterized the incident as a single-vehicle crash, scanner watchers told FFXnow that a car was reportedly involved. An MWAA spokesperson said they “can’t confirm additional details.”
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) October 13, 2022
The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department also responded to the crash but deferred to MWAA police when asked for information.
The Dulles Toll Road crash was one of two fatal incidents reported in Fairfax County yesterday.
At 11:24 a.m., Fairfax County police and fire personnel were dispatched to the Route 50/Sully Road interchange in Chantilly after a car drove into a light pole. The driver — identified as Arjen Weiss, 62, of Chantilly — was transported to Reston Hospital, where he died.
— ʙʀᴀᴅ ꜰʀᴇɪᴛᴀꜱ (@Chopper4Brad) October 12, 2022
“Detectives from our Crash Reconstruction Unit determined Weiss was driving westbound on Lee Jackson Memorial Highway on the ramp to northbound Sully Road,” the Fairfax County Police Department said. “His vehicle left the roadway for an unknown reason and struck a light pole. Detectives believe alcohol and speed were not factors in the crash.”
With the Silver Line Phase II opening still in flux, Fairfax County is being asked to pay another $40 million.
At its transportation committee meeting on Friday (Sept. 30), the Board of Supervisors got an update on the ramifications of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) agreeing in July to increase the budget for the Silver Line extension by $250 million.
The original project agreement calls for Fairfax County to pay about 16% of the asked-for overage, so with the quarter of a billion dollar budget increase, the county owes an additional $40.25 million.
All told, the county will have spent nearly a billion dollars — $960 million — on the second phase of the Silver Line, which will add six stations from Reston to Ashburn in Loudoun County.
In total, the project has cost just over $3 billion. The board is set to vote on the payment later this month.
While likely to approve the additional payment, several supervisors expressed frustration and annoyance with the need to throw even more dollars at a project that has been besieged by constant delays.
“I don’t think it’s a shock and it’s a tiny portion of the overall project,” Chairman Jeff McKay said. “But [the extra $40 million] has rightly angered a lot of folks given all the delays.”
Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust also made clear he was not happy that the county is being asked to pay more.
“Have we asked ourselves if this is a good deal and the Airports Authority is not just…spending a lot of money to make a problem go away? And it’s our money that they are spending,” Foust asked staff.
He also asked if $960 million will be the final amount. However, county staff couldn’t guarantee that there won’t be any further costs, considering Phase 1 is still undergoing repairs after opening in 2014.
“We still have to reconcile Phase 1 and Phase 2…All parties have to be reconciled at the end of the project,” said Martha Elena Coello, head of special projects for the Fairfax County Department of Transporation. “We are still doing some work on Phase 1 and that needs to be completed. At the end, there will be a reconciliation of both those phases.”
McKay asked, seemingly rhetorically, what would happen if the county didn’t pay the extra money. Staff responded that it might become a “legal matter” since the payment is required by the signed project agreement.
“According to the funding agreement, this is not a ‘might be’ or ‘may be,'” he said. “It’s a requirement for the county. We don’t have the flexibility…without significant negative consequences.”
Still relatively new Metro General Manager Randy Clarke was given authority by the Board of Directors last month to set an opening date for the Silver Line extension. While no exact date has been announced, Clarke said safety certifications are expected this October, and Metro has updated its maps to feature the new stations.
At the same time, Clarke warned that opening the Silver Line could force service reductions due to a deficit in trains when currently shuttered Blue and Yellow Line stations south of Washington National Airport reopen.
That headache will be put off a little longer by an entirely different Metro problem. Last week, the transit agency announced that its new Potomac Yard station won’t open until 2023. As a result, the Yellow and Blue stations will be closed for another two weeks, until Nov. 5.
Phase two of the long-awaited Silver Line is likely slated for a late fall opening.
At a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board meeting today (Thursday), efforts are underway to complete safety and certification requirements, according to Theresa Impastato, WMATA’s executive vice president and chief safety officer.
But an exact date remains uncertain. Metro’s board will set the date for servicing the 11.4-mile extension into Loudoun County. It’s unlikely service will begin until late October, especially since simulated service that is expected to continue through mid-October.
“I know everyone in the community is dying to hear,” said WMATA’s CEO Randy Clarke, adding that the organization is entering the “red zone” towards announcing a date.
With nearly all hiring completed, onsite training is planned by September 11. Simulated service will take place between October 3 and 17, according to Lynn Bowersox, WMATA’s senior vice president.
The second phase of the Silver Line has been in the works under the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority for almost a decade now, encountering numerous delays that have frustrated local residents, business owners, and elected officials.
The Washington Metrorail Safety Commission will then approve a safety certification when the materials are submitted in the middle of October — one of the 10 conditions of acceptance of the project.
Metro’s board will then set a date for service.
(Updated at 12:05 p.m.) A Reston man was killed in a crash on the Dulles Toll Road Wednesday night (Aug. 24), the second reported pedestrian fatality on the highway in as many months.
Chris Baidoe, 26, was hit by a vehicle around 8 p.m. in the toll road’s westbound lanes near the exit to Fairfax County Parkway in Reston, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said in a statement.
Baidoe was transported to a hospital, where he died. MWAA said he had “no fixed address,” but a family member confirmed to FFXnow that he lived in Reston.
The authority said the crash involved a non-commercial vehicle, but it couldn’t yet confirm the make or model.
“No other people were injured,” MWAA said. “The driver of the striking vehicle remained on scene, and no charges have been filed at this point in the investigation.”
The crash was first reported by The Washington Post.
MWAA Police are investigating the incident, which occurred just a mile away from a July 5 crash on the westbound Dulles Toll Road near the Reston Parkway interchange.
In that case, no identity was initially given for the pedestrian, who was struck around 9:20 p.m. and died in a hospital that night.
When FFXnow followed up on July 29, MWAA identified the victim as 29-year-old Delante Ross, who they said had no fixed address. A spokesperson confirmed that the driver had not been charged but said no other information could be released at that point, including what kind of vehicle was involved.
A different member of MWAA’s media relations team told FFXnow yesterday that they were “checking for updates on the July 5 Toll Road incident investigation,” but no new information was available as of publication time.
Photo via Google Maps