Virginia’s new budget proposal includes an alarming blow to efforts to help fund the Dulles Metrorail Project. The deal excludes additional funds for the next phase of the project, which could affect how much drivers spend on tolls.
“Right now what we’re looking at is probably a doubling of tolls next year,” Reston resident and community activist Terry Maynard said.
He’s been fighting with the group Reston 2020 to shift the burden of paying for the Dulles Metro from toll road users, but Thursday’s budget deal would be a setback. At the last minute, $300 million intended to keep tolls down was pulled from the budget. Gov. Bob McDonnell told the negotiators he’d stick to a promised $150 million contribution for Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail Project, but that’s it.
That could kill the project if local governments back away from supporting it, said state Sen. Mark Herring, D-Loudoun County.
“The decision reveals an alarming lack of vision about economic development and transportation, and I’m concerned that it puts the project in jeopardy,” he said.
Northern Virginia business groups also are dismayed.
“We think the state’s going to find a way to do the right thing and step up and fund its portion of Phase 2 of the Dulles Rail Project somehow,” said Loudoun County Chamber President Tony Howard.
Without the $300 million, tolls are projected to reach $4.50 by 2014, more than $6 by 2018 and almost $11 one way by 2030. Residents fear such tolls could have drivers looking for detours and clogging local roads with commuters.
Lawmakers in the full House and Senate have their say on the budget April 17, but some Senate democrats vow not to approve it without the $300 million.
Phase 2 of the Dulles Metrorail Project also faces a critical vote next week. On Tuesday, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on whether to reaffirm its support for the project.