Friday, April 15, 2011

Washington Airports Authority Control of Dulles Toll Road Looking Shaky

Here's a detailed article from "Toll Road News" about the recent decision by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to pay a $325 million premium to underground a rail station rather than build it elevated. Nearly 60 percent or $3.7 billon of the cost of the $6 billion+ rail project is supposed to be supported with toll revenue bonds on the Dulles Toll Road.

"Virginia secretary of transportation Sean T. Connaughton has formally protested the expensive undergrounding in a letter to the Airports Authority board, saying that the state of Virginia will regard the undergrounding as an airport expense and not a commitment that is eligible for Dulles Toll Road support or any other support from Virginia. This undercuts the MWAA plan which has been to have tolls pay for a fixed proportion - 57 percent - of the project cost.

"MWAA board member Mary "Mame" Reiley said after the vote of the subway decision: "It is indeed more expensive, but we felt in the long run we were making a decision for the next 50 to 75 years," and that the elevated station involved "another trek at an airport that right now has too many treks."

"We need to beat BWI," Reiley added. "We had to pick the user-friendly station that would encourage more people to travel on the Metro and perhaps even increase our ridership in terms of choosing our airport over Baltimore’s as an international airport."

Toll Road News adds, "The more of a financial mess MWAA gets into the better it is for the treasury of the state of Maryland. Little wonder Maryland delegates to MWAA voted for an underground station at Dulles."

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