We Can Do Better: Opposition to I-66 Tolls Inside the Beltway
By: Senator Dave Marsden and Delegate David Bulova
Having both been raised here in Northern Virginia, we have seen first-hand how the chronic congestion problems on I-66 have affected our economy and quality of life. Like most people in our area, this is personal. Traffic on I-66 has stolen countless hours that could have been spent with family or at work. That is why we were proud to support the bipartisan transportation package passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2013 that is now generating billions for infrastructure improvements in our region. However, the way revenue is generated does matter, which is why we feel compelled to express our current opposition to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plan to toll I-66 inside the Beltway.
While legitimate concern has been raised with regard to the cost to commuters, there is a much deeper principal at stake. No one likes the idea of tolls. But like water and sewer service, there should at least be a strong link between who pays and the services delivered. The idea of tolling I-66 inside the Beltway without a solid plan for creating new infrastructure that directly benefits the toll payers simply fails to meet this basic test. Likewise, we are concerned that this project violates the concept of first do-no-harm. A recent study by Fairfax County found that while those using parallel roads won’t be affected in the direction of rush hour traffic, those who go the opposite direction will see significant increases in traffic. Even if this can be absorbed in the short-term, we have serious doubts about whether this is sustainable in the long-term. The days of one-way rush hour traffic are quickly going the way of the dinosaur as areas like Tysons, Herndon, Chantilly, Reston, and Centreville continue to develop. VDOT’s actions mean that those who are using these local roads will see their commutes lengthened. This will include neighborhoods both inside and outside of the Beltway.
We applaud VDOT for coming up with some promising and creative solutions – including the active traffic management system recently implemented outside of the Beltway. But the current plan to toll I-66 inside the Beltway without increased capacity is the wrong way to go. It is a matter of principal.
Senator David Marsden Delegate David Bulova
37th District 37th District