Governor Bob McDonnell held a news conference today at the Dulles Toll Road Administration Building in McLean to highlight the local impact of his "Virginia's Road to the Future" transportation funding proposal. Jim Corcoran, President of the Fairfax Chamber; Jack Potter, President and CEO of MWAA; and Patty Nicoson, President of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association joined the governor in speaking in support of the sustainable transportation funding solution. Among the projects funded are $300 million to help further reduce the tolls necessary to finance the Dulles Metrorail Extension Project. Without this additional funding, tolls on the Dulles Toll Road are currently projected to increase from $2.75 cents each way to $6.75 over the next five years and increase to $16.75 over the next 30 years.
"We've made significant progress in funding transportation needs in recent years," said Governor McDonnell. "Our historic 2011 transportation funding package was the largest Virginia investment in transportation since 1986, investing more than $3 billion to create jobs and jump-start projects across the Commonwealth. Over $14 billion in projects are under way or in procurement statewide because of our previous funding efforts, including over 900 phases of projects in all parts of Virginia. But more must be done.
"Last week, with a bipartisan vote to pass my transportation plan in the House of Delegates it became clear that we are on our way to enacting the first significant sustainable transportation funding bill in a generation. A study released last week confirmed what residents of Northern Virginia know all too well: The DC metro region is home to the most congested transportation network in the nation. In order to keep Virginia the top place to live, work and raise a family we must do more to alleviate these burdensome long and expensive commutes. It is imperative that we take action now. We cannot put this off any longer.
"The $300 million included in my plan will help reduce the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road by 50 cents per trip in 2015, 2016, and 2017, and over the life of the project will lead to an average annual reduction in cost of 60 cents per trip. This reduction in tolls could potentially amount to a $1.02 billion reduction in debt service costs over the life of the project. Further, if the $1 billion in TIFIA funding is awarded, this additional funding will provide for an average annual reduction in trip costs of $3.75. The Commonwealth's contribution combined with TIFIA funding will provide for an average annual trip reduction of $4.35. This is a huge opportunity for our Commonwealth to finally solve one of our long-standing problems.
"I strongly urge legislators to come to the table and support a plan that would provide for a safe and sustainable transportation network for the future and reduce the tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. Last year, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw (D-Fairfax) said, 'You can't tell me that there's a single project, a single project, that carries the importance of a Dulles Rail project.' Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston) said, 'The entire project is at risk if the commonwealth does not come forward with more funding.' We have now before us a balanced plan that will let Virginians spend less time in traffic and more time at home and at work. It's time for legislators to act."
The governor's administration - working with partners at U.S. Department of Transportation, MWAA, and Fairfax and Loudoun counties - has been able to reduce the costs of the Dulles Metro Rail Extension Project from an estimated $3.8 billion to $2.8 billion. However, the tolls necessary to finance the project will still have a disproportionate impact on Virginia citizens and taxpayers. Under the McDonnell administration, the Commonwealth previously committed $150 million in additional funding to help reduce the costs of the project, and it has continued to work with partners on additional cost savings measures. Last year, the governor committed to continuing to work with the General Assembly and partners to identify additional funding, provided that MWAA continued to make progress in reforming its accountability and governance. This year, the governor's 2013 transportation funding plan, "Virginia's Road to the Future", will provide an additional $300 million to help further reduce the tolls necessary to finance the project once MWAA completes the necessary reforms identified in the US Department of Transportation Inspector General's report.
The Texas Transportation Institute released a report last week that showed the Northern Virginia/DC Metro area had the worst traffic conditions in the country. It showed that drivers lost 67 hours in delays a year at an annual cost of almost $1400 per commuter. The region is also the #1 in fuel wasted per driver, excess carbon dioxide emitted, and cost of congestion per driver. The Virginia Beach region is also ranked #20 worst in the country and the Richmond region is #60.