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Fairfax County Transportation Issues

Fairfax County Transportation Issues

2017-04-19: WaPo: Metro GM proposes 'new business model', $500M/yr in extra funding
GM Paul Wiedefeld said Metro needs $15.5 billion over the next 10 years for investments to "remain safe and reliable," an average increase of nearly 30% over the agency's previous request. Two funding proposals that have been floated are a 1-cent regional sales tax, which would generate about $500 million a year, and a tax on property close to Metro stations.

2017-03-19: WTOP: Tax increase favored for Va. transit shortfall, by Max Smith
Money keeping Virginia's transit systems from falling apart is set to drop by more than 40 percent over the next three years, and a state panel is preparing to recommend increasing the regional gas tax or other taxes to close the gap.

2017-02-28: WTOP: 24/7 work drives Metro ridership down 41% at Vienna station, by Max Smith
Metro ridership has dropped dramatically at stations affected by 24/7 track work, new numbers show, including a 41.2 percent decline in the last three months of 2016 at the Vienna station.

2017-01-25: FCTA: NoVa Transportation Committee meeting in Reston, by Charles McAndrew
Estimated Metro shortfall $290M for FY18, costing $39M for Virginia and $239.6M for Fairfax County.

2017-01-20: Reston Now: Fx Co Supervisors to Further Discuss Reston Transportation Projects
On January 24, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will discuss a proposed February public hearing on the funding plan for Reston transportation projects. The details ...

2016-12-17: WaPo: Local gov'ts alarmed at projected cost of Metro fix, by Robert McCartney
Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld has spent much of his first year studying how much it will cost to fix the regionís transit system. The price tag is a lot higher than local government officials say they expected or can afford. The total projected additional cost for the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia exceeds $1 billion over the next three years.

2016-12-15: WaPo: Metro fires six, finds inspectors falsified records, by Siddiqui & Powers
Metro fired six workers after determining that nearly half of the agency's 60-person track-inspection department created a pattern of fabrication and negligence that led to the derailment of a Silver Line train in July, the transit agency said Thursday. The fired employees falsified track-inspection records for as long as three years, officials said.

2016-12-06: WTOP: Upcoming I-66 toll lane briefing, vote still has opponents, by Max Smith
Plans to put new toll lanes on I-66 similar to the Express Lanes on the Capital Beltway are moving forward this week, with VDOT is set to close a $2.3B deal with a group of private companies to design, build, and operate the lanes. Del. Bob Marshall, who represents the western end of the area, has long opposed any toll plans and is still hoping for changes to the project.

2016-11-04: Sun Gazette: Fx commuters prefer express-bus service over Metro, by B. Trompeter
Fairfax County officials shuffled some buses around this year to help area commuters cope with Metrorail's SafeTrack improvements. Officials subsequently got a pleasant surprise: Many riders on those bus routes preferred that service to Metro and were keen to see what had been a temporary fix turned into a permanent option.

2016-09-07: WAMU: Steep Transit Losses Continue at Metro, and Nationwide, by Martin DiCaro
The Metrorail and bus systems saw steep declines in ridership in the fiscal year that ended in June, continuing a long downward trend set to cause budget problems for years to come. But even the New York subway system is detecting problems, reflecting a "general pattern of decline in transit ridership (subway and bus) across North America."

2016-08-25: Sun Gazette: Vienna debuts unique new mini-roundabout, by Brian Trompeter
Vienna's first-ever mini-roundabout at Park and Locust Streets S.E., opened to the public during the third weekend of August and motorists so far seem to be getting the hang of negotiating the circle. But one motorist drove straight over the roundabout's mountable curb and through the intersection, as if the circle were not there at all.

2016-08-08: WaPo: FTA blasts Metro track maintenance program, by M. Powers and F. Siddiqui
A new Federal Transit Administration report Monday blasted Metro's track inspection and repair protocol for "systemic safety deficiencies", citing last month's derailment of two rail cars as an example of how the agency continues to prioritize service over safety.

2016-08-02: WT: Metro GM Wiedefeld moves into Phase 3 (incl job cuts), by Deborah Simmons
Job cuts at the region's Metro system are coming. Metro GM Paul Wiedefeld's goal is to make the beleaguered transit system "fiscally accountable" by restructuring management and downsizing the workforce. Metro faces an $18 billion capital budget deficit, a $2.5 billion unfunded pension liability and a $300 million shortfall in its final 2018 budget.

2016-08-02: WTOP: How I-66 toll lanes outside the Beltway will work, by Max Smith
Final plans for new HOV or toll lanes along more than 20 miles of Interstate 66 are due next month, but preliminary documents provide new insight into what the two toll lanes and three regular highway lanes in each direction will look like when the project is complete around 2021.

2016-07-08: WaPo: Transform 66 is yet another transportation mistake, by Stuart Whitaker
Transform 66 is a $2 billion plan to build toll lanes on I-66. Although it would be privately financed, the project requires up to $600 million in state and local funds, and would create a 50-year partnership that would survive long past my lifetime and lock our children and grandchildren into an auto-dependent transportation model from the Eisenhower administration. Bad deal!

2016-06-27: PlanItMetro: Growth Mode or Stuck in Neutral? Or Both?, by Shyam
Population and jobs are up, but regional travel is down. Why? The very nature of trip-making may be changing in this region. More households, more jobs, and trip-making is flat or perhaps down -- regardless of mode.

2016-06-08: Watchdog.org: Light rail runs at heavy price in Dallas, Houston, by Kenric Ward
Houston's Metro rail is catching up to Dallas' DART trains in ridership, but both systems are more dependent than ever on taxpayer subsidies. DART's government subsidies were nearly nine times the amount of its fare revenue of $71,012,000 last year. In Houston, each $1.25 Metro rail ticket is supplemented by $4.75 in subsidies.

2016-06-08: WaPo: Silver Line should never have been born, by Fredrick Kunkle
The Silver Line was Washington's most expensive transportation project ever. Fewer people than projected now pay to ride. And its terminus is still miles from Dulles Airport and it doesn't stop in a transit-friendly walkable community -- and, no, not Tysons Corner. But, hey, those big real estate developers have sure made bank.

2016-06-03: WaPo: Not a dime more for Metro -- yet, by Paul Kupiec & Ryan Nabil
Metro has many problems, but the biggest one is not inadequate taxpayer support. Taxpayers provide a subsidy of $2.02 for each Metro passenger trip. In contrast, New York's system receives a subsidy of $1.92 per ride. Even the wildly inefficient Amtrak system receives only a $0.25 subsidy per passenger mile, compared with $0.42 for Metro.

2016-05-18: WT: Privatize D.C. Metro?, by Deborah Simmons
Many of you do not know and do not remember that public transit used to be privately owned and operated. And it's time to query whether Metro, the D.C. region's public and heavily subsidized transit system, should be privatized.

2016-05-11: WT: The Taking of Pelham Metro One-Two-Three, by Deborah Simmons
Like the transit workers and hijackers in the original 1974 Hollywood flick "The Taking of Pelham One, Two, Three," passengers and overseers of the D.C. region's system, Metro, are situated between a rock (money) and a hard place (public safety). In "Pelham," the money involves a finite amount; with Metro, not so much.

2016-05-11: WT: Metro faces $18B budget shortfall in next decade, Ryan M. McDermott
Metro faces an $18 billion capital deficit over the next 10 years, news that shook regional lawmakers and prompted one to suggest privatizing the long-troubled transit agency.

2016-04-16: Connection: Reston traffic goes from Difficult to Impossible, by Terry Maynard
Fairfax County's Department of Transportation (FCDOT) has completed a traffic impact analysis, which shows that Reston commuters can routinely expect morning and evening "peak period" traffic delays at intersections along Reston's major streets near the Dulles Corridor, to earn a grade of "F".

2016-04-10: Examiner: Tragic deterioration of DC's Great Society Subway, by Michael Barone
If government is what we decide to do together, Metro seemed to be government at its best. Forty years later, it has come to be government at its dreariest, with employees more concerned about overtime pay and pensions than serving the public.

2016-03-15: Connection: No E-Z Answers on I-66 Inside the Beltway, by Andrea Worker
On March 9, VDOT hosted the third and final Design Public Hearing on their plans to improve I-66 inside the Beltway by the addition of another lane of traffic and by the conversion of the road to a completely tolled thoroughfare during peak morning and evening travel hours. VDOT was woefully unprepared, and many questions remained unanswered.

2016-02-03: WaPo: DC Metro hires top bankruptcy lawyer to help fix troubled finances
"We'll have discussions with the jurisdictions," which have tightened the purse strings on Metro. "We might have discussions with the unions, either in the context of contracts or in the area of pensions and other benefits. There's a potential for a lot of engagement on reducing our expenses." [No kidding!]

2016-02-03: FCTA: Response to WaPo article on DC Metro problems, by Rob Whitfield
Those assigned by Virginia to the WMATA Board, plus members of Northern Virginia Transportation Commission, members of the General Assembly, VDOT Secretaries, the DRPT Administrators and recent Governors of Virginia have ALL totally failed the public in fulfilling their oversight duties for WMATA.

2016-01-12: FCTA: I-66 Tolling Plan Inside Beltway Wrong, by Rob Whitfield prior to Va-GA
The proposed I 66 tolling plan for Inside the Capital Beltway (ITCB) is wrong both as a matter of principle and as a misuse of our principal.

2015-12-09: AP: Virginia board approves tolls on I-66 for solo drivers, by Matthew Barakat
McLEAN, Va. (AP) - The Commonwealth Transportation Board unanimously approved a plan Wednesday to allow solo motorists to begin driving on Interstate 66 inside the Capital Beltway during rush hour if they are willing to pay a toll.

2015-12-09: Washingtonian: The History of How Metro Got So Bad, by Mullins & Gaynor
Here is another take on Metro's severe culture and personnel problems, similar to the 2012-03-26 three-part investigative series by the Washington Times (further down on this page).

2015-11-20: WaPo: Va. to extend I-95/395 HOT lanes north to D.C. line, by Robert Thomson
The Virginia government and a private partner have reached agreement to expand the I-95 Express Lanes north eight miles to the D.C. line, replacing the High-Occupancy Vehicle system on I-395 up to the area near the Pentagon.

2015-11-02: Connection: The truth behind I-66 inside the Beltway, by Aubrey Layne
Virginia's Secretary of Transportation expresses his understanding of the McAuliffe administration's proposal to improve I-66 inside the Beltway.

2015-11-01: Fx Free Citizen: McAuliffe Lying Again? ...about I-66 tolls, by Ronald Henry
The Governor's claim was certainly untrue when he was trying to impose the toll simultaneously in both directions because the HOV restrictions only apply eastbound in the morning and westbound in the evening, never both ways at once under the current rules.

2015-10-23: Fx Times: I-66 tolling, widening defended by VDOT, by Angela Woolsey
VDOT's I-66 presentation Monday evening at Oakton High School highlighted the ability to move more people, greater travel reliability, reduced daily congestion, and less commuter traffic on local roads among the benefits of the proposed I-66 changes. Residents are still concerned about the price tag, the tolls, and the impact on environment and neighborhoods.

2015-10-21: Bisnow: Til Hazel thinks traffic could kill NoVa office space, by Tania Anderson
NoVa real estate pioneer Til Hazel says transportation is the biggest threat to any future growth in NoVa and will only grow Fairfax County's 18% vacancy rate. He blames politicians for appealing to the "antis" who've opposed any growth for several decades. And he's dubious of the Silver Line and says so far it's only left Fairfax and Loudoun counties $3B in debt.

2015-10-11: Bull Elephant: McAuliffe's I-66 Mega-Toll Madness, by Delegate Dave LaRock
Delegate LaRock adds his voice to the Republican opposition to Governor McAuliffe's plan to levy new tolls without adding new lane capacity on I-66 and use the toll revenue for low-priority pedestrian and bike improvements. And how about that "Tax Pig" pic (with a rather nice supporting cast)?

2015-10-08: Connection: New Tolls on I-66: Will That Help?, by Marissa Beale
New tolls are presented as the first step to reducing heavy traffic on I-66, but some voice doubts. "I am unsure how tolls are going to improve congestion," said Thomas Cranmer, a civil engineer present during the meeting. "[VDOT] provided no cost details. The only reply was it would be about $50 million."

2015-10-06: Fx Free Citizen: VDOT to I-66 Drivers: Abandon Your Cars!, by Tim Hannigan, FCTA
VDOT officials openly stated at a public hearing in its Fairfax facility on Monday evening that its plans for reducing the insufferable traffic congestion on the I-66 corridor Inside the Beltway do NOT call for increasing road capacity but instead encourage travelers to increase their use of "multimodal" transportation solutions.

2015-10-02: Bull Elephant: House Republicans Call on McAuliffe to Shelve I-66 Toll Plan
Republicans outlined their opposition to Governor McAuliffe's plan to levy new tolls without adding new lane capacity on I-66 and use the toll revenue for low-priority pedestrian and bike improvements. This plan completely misplaces priorities and will fail to provide real congestion relief.

2015-09-29: Sun Gazette: Metrorail "maxed out", Pr Wm expansion unlikely, by Jill Palermo
It'll take an Act of Congress to extend Metro to Prince William County -- and that's probably the easy part. Metro tells supervisors that stretching the rail line another 16 miles south toward Potomac Mills is currently not possible because the "core" of the 117-mile rail system is already "maxed out".

2015-09-17: Sun Gazette: VDOT touts HOT-lanes on I-66 to Haymarket, by Brian Trompeter
If you think the Beltway's HOT lanes are a good idea and have improved traffic flow, you're going to love the fact that VDOT has decided to do the same on I-66 between the Beltway and Haymarket. And those additional fly-over "spaghetti" off-ramps from the Beltway will require taking down 11 houses in Dunn Loring.

2015-09-17: Watchdog.org: Traffic between DC and Virginia will worsen with new EPA ozone regs
A new study claims EPA's new ozone limits will be so restrictive that large parts of Virginia won't meet compliance, and the feds may withhold funding for projects such as Virginia's $2-3 billion plan addressing congestion on I-66 outside the Capital Beltway and the capacity extension for VRE if the commonwealth fails to meet emissions targets.

2015-09-09: WT: Cities compete to devise the worst solutions for gridlock -- D.C. vs L.A.
Washington has displaced Los Angeles as the city with the longest commutes. But L.A. is valiantly trying to win back the title by transforming hundreds of miles of automobile traffic lanes into bus lanes and bicycle paths. "What they're trying to do is make congestion so bad, you'll have to get out of your car."

2015-09-03: Sun Gazette: VDOT chief presses case for I-66 tolling, by Scott McCaffrey

2015-08-21: WaPo: VDOT appears to be not interested in carpooling, by Dr. Gridlock
"If Virginia was really interested in supporting carpooling instead of having a cash cow, they would change their HOV3 policy to HOV2, like Maryland." -- George J. Leiby, Middletown

2015-08-03: Sun Gazette: Plan for tolls on I-66 inside Beltway still drawing flak
At an Aug. 1 feedback forum, it seemed VDOT's promises to take into account community concerns weren't turning many frowns upside down.

2015-07-21: Examiner: D.C. metro highlights false beliefs driving transit industry
D.C. Metrorail -- the 17th-largest system in the world -- is unreliable, unpleasant, expensive and occasionally deadly. It has become so because the system through which it operates is outdated and incredibly resistant to any sort of change, from innovation, to private investment to energetic leadership.

2015-07-21: LeMunyon: No I-66 tolls inside beltway! -- letter to VDOT's Aubrey Layne
Del. Jim LeMunyon (R-67-Fairfax/Loudoun) has called for a halt to plans to toll and not widen I-66 inside the Beltway. The plans were first announced by Virginia's Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne in March 2015, and have support from certain local government officials in Fairfax and Arlington Counties.

2015-07-21: Connection: Issues over Improving I-66 -- letter from FCFCA's Jeff Parnes
The Fairfax Co Federation of Citizens Associations offers the following recommendations for improving I-66: 1) If tolling is implemented, funds collected should be confined to the I-66 corridor; 2) A Dulles Airport Access Road connector should be included; 3) Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) should be implemented west of Vienna; 4) Hours of operation need to be standardized.

2015-06-17: Fx Ti404: Residents skeptical about I-66 tolling plan, by Kali Schumitz
That section of I-66 is currently restricted to vehicles with two or more passengers during peak commuting hours. VDOT would like to change that to HOV-3 while also adding a tolling option for vehicles with fewer passengers, similar to the 495 and 95 Express Lanes.

2015-06-06: Chap Petersen: How proposed I-66 changes affect Commuters and Neighbors
"I am in awe of my Arlington colleagues who have lobbied to keep I-66 narrowed to four lanes inside their jurisdiction. So why are Fairfax County homeowners not given the same deference? Why do we have to accommodate ten lanes, plus a bike lane?"

2015-05-29: Fx Ti404: Residents push for new I-66 alternatives, by Kali Schumitz
VDOT has been forging ahead with its planning process for the highway and transit project, continuing to work toward a 2017 construction start, despite objections from residents. The proposal would widen I-66 to include three general-purpose lanes and two high occupancy toll lanes in each direction between the Capital Beltway and Gainesville.

2015-05-13: Fx Ti404: VDOT reduces property impact of I-66 plans, by Kali Schumitz
With a series of engineering tweaks, the Virginia Department of Transportation has significantly reduced the number of homes that might be claimed by widening Interstate 66. However, the changes are not enough to assuage the many residents and environmental groups that would like to see VDOT take a different approach entirely and not widen the road.

2015-04-29: Fx Ti404: I-66 in spotlight at road funding hearing, by Kali Schumitz
VDOT is proposing to widen I-66 outside the Capital Beltway to three regular lanes and two high occupancy toll lanes in each direction. VDOT is also considering options for improving I-66 inside the beltway, including introducing a tolling option during peak hours and increasing the numbers of people who use transit, bike or walk in the corridor.

2015-04-25: Examiner: Why fixed-rail mass transit is a niche transportation mode
Fixed-rail transit is far less flexible than bus transit and far less attractive except for those traveling to downtown locations.

2015-02-05: Fx Free Citizen: VDOT I-66 Plans Outside Beltway, by FCTA's Charles McAndrews
At a Feb 3 public information hearing at Oakton High School, officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) outlined the proposed plan to improve 25 miles of I-66 from the Beltway (I-495) to Haymarket (US Route 15).

2014-12-17: FxCo: "Unfunded" Transportation Projects -- currently being considered
A list of projects Fairfax County has identified as necessary to maintain a safe and efficient transportation network. These projects are currently not funded.

2014-11-27: WaPo: Dulles International Airport struggles to find its footing, Lori Aratani
Washington Dulles International Airport is in trouble. The most alarming evidence: Sometime next year, more passengers will travel through Reagan National Airport than Dulles -- an airport 14 times National's size. For Virginia leaders, as well as the agency that manages both airports, it is a deeply troubling development.

2014-11-26: FCTA: Results of Transportation Meeting with Del. Tom Rust, by Chuck McAndrew
The purpose of this meeting was to emphasize that FCTA wants to see evidence that the additional funding from the recent sales tax increase, grantors tax increase, and transit occupancy tax increase, which is supposed to give Northern Va. 70% of the funds, is being honored. (See LETTER in Fairfax Free Citizen.)

2014-11-20: WAMU: 2,000 Miles Of Bicycle, Pedestrian Projects Recommended By Regional Planners
Thousands of miles of bike lanes and pedestrian pathways are planned for the Washington region over the next several decades. The aim is to get people out of their cars and onto bikes or walking paths for the many short trips they make each day.

2014-11-13: Fx Free Citizen: LeMunyon's Transportation Update -- by Del Jim LeMunyon
Editor's Note: Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R, VA-67) provided the following, very informative "Transportation Update" to his constituents yesterday (November 12). Thanks much to Delegate LeMunyon for keeping the public informed about ongoing activities and plans to improve transportation in this heavily traffic congested area.

2014-10-28: Fx Co: County Adopts First Bicycle Master Plan -- "key means of transportation"
"This bicycle master plan maps out 1,130 miles in recommended, new on- and off-road bike routes. These new bikeways -- along with the 353 miles in existing bike lanes, shared-use paths and trails -- form a connected network across the county. It will allow bicyclists from age 8 to 80-plus to enjoy a safe, easy way to ride."

2014-09-25: FABB: Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling -- Influential Fx Co lobby group
Ever wonder why we're seeing so much attention being given by Fairfax County to bicycling at the expense of roads? Who knew there was a web site dedicated to further eroding your driving experience with your tax dollars? On Nov 4, vote NO on the Transportation Bond!

2014-09-09: Fx Free Citizen: No Financial Feasibility Studies for No VA Transit, R Whitfield
The McAuliffe administration favors investment in transit projects over highways in the near term. Highways will continue to be subjected to rigorous pre-approval analysis, while no similar feasibility analysis or preview is being required of transit projects.

2014-08-05: The Economist: Why trams are a waste of money
European tramlines tend to be fairly long and isolated from other traffic, which ensures a swifter journey. But in America streetcars travel shorter distances along rails that mix with other traffic, so streetcars invariably inch along. ...it is no solution to America's public transport problems.

2014-07-11: ACTA: Constructing the Columbia Pike Streetcar on Fiscal Sand?
The Virginia Municipal League (VML) told Virginia's local governments that state "general fund revenue collections portend tough times ahead", and the federal "transportation spigot (was) running dry". So Virginia is broke. But that didn't stop it from kicking in an additional $65 million for the Columbia Pike street car project.

2014-06-24: VDOT: Route 7 Widening - Reston Ave to Jarrett Valley Dr
This project proposes to widen a 6.9-mile segment of Route 7 from four to six lanes between Reston Ave and Jarrett Valley Dr, to increase capacity, decrease congestion and improve safety in conformity with the Fairfax County Comprehensive Plan.

2014-03-24: Examiner: Facts expose myths of mass transit growth, decline in American driving
Two myths are persistently peddled by mass transit advocates, environmentalists and others who want to restore the 19th Century model of city life. The first myth is that mass transit usage is going up dramatically, which is closely related to the second myth that Americans are driving less.

2014-01-10: FCTA: Transparency in Law Making and Widening Rt 7 from Reston Ave to Tysons
In a letter to Del. Tom Rust, FCTA's Tom Cranmer discusses the lack of transparency in passing the Transportation Tax Bill, lack of candor to the public about funds mostly going to transit projects rather than roads, and lack of a budget item for expanding Route 7 from Reston Avenue to Tysons.

2013-12-xx: GMU: Outlook for Transit Commuting in the Washington Metro Area
George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis studies current and future transit patterns in the D.C. area. Just one in seven commuters use public transit; this figure is expected to remain constant through 2040.

2013-02-06: Examiner: Few violators pay Dulles Toll Road fines, by Liz Essley
More than a million violations on the Dulles Toll Road in 2012 never resulted in a ticket being issued, The Washington Examiner has learned. Only 95,269 people got tickets in the mail -- meaning that fewer than one of every 10 violators ever received a ticket.

2012-xx-xx: GMU: Connecting Transportation Investment and the Economy in Metro Washington
George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis finds that the D.C. area's transportation modes will change very little with the area's economic growth over the next thirty years.

2012-10-15: Sun Gazette: Smart-Growth Group Disputes GMU Transportation Report
Activists pushing for transit and mixed-use development are taking issue with a new Center for Regional Analysis report that predicts automobile usage barely will decline as the region's prime mode of transportation over the next three decades.

2012-03-26: WT: DC Metro, culture of complicity -- Parts 1, 2, & 3, by Luke Rosiak
Part 1: Metro derailed by culture of complacence, incompetence, lack of diversity
Part 2: Even with big salaries, Metro can't fill its jobs
Part 3: Metro transit police: Not quite the region's finest

2010-05-12: GreaterWash: What do Metro employees really make?, by Michael Perkins
WMATA provided data about employee salaries, bonuses, overtime and benefits for fiscal year 2009. Is the $100,000 bus driver a myth, or reality? Does Metro depend on a lot of overtime? Are bonuses incredibly high, or used primarily as a symbolic recognition of a job well done?

2009-04-27: Fx Co: Fund 700, Route 28 Tax District - FY 2010 Adopted Budget
Under the terms of the agreement with the state, the District will fund 75 percent of defined Phase I and Phase II improvements and the state will fund 25 percent.

2004-10-20: WaPo: In Northern Virginia, It's Rail vs Road Repairs, by Steven Ginsberg
Opponents of the rail project say better roads are a cheaper way to move people. They condemn the plan to finance part of the project's cost -- which could be as much as $4 billion -- by raising the cost for motorists who use the Dulles Toll Road.