Want the same deal as Dulles, to get Metro extended to Gainesville/Woodbridge?

Then be prepared to pay the “local” share.

The Silver Line extension through Tysons to Dulles Airport will cost $5.2 billion. After political gymnastics worthy of a gold medal and a “Perils of Pauline” movie, Virginia politicians extracted $900 million from the Federal government.

Ugh… who’s paying the rest?

According to the June 23, 2009 financing plan, over 50% of the funding will come from drivers on the Dulles Toll Road.  The state of Virginia is kicking in $275 million, Loudoun/Fairfax counties are contributing $1.1 billion, and even the airport authority was tapped for $215 million.

That leaves the commuters on the toll road with the bill for over $2.7 billion.  Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road will double by 2012, to raise that funding for the Metro extension.  (Tolls were doubled in 2005 already.)

Lots of dreamy, stuck-in-traffic commuters paint imaginary lines on maps showing extensions of the Orange Line to Centreville/Gainesville, or of the Blue Line to Woodbridge/Potomac Mills.  It helps relive the pain of the traffic congestion.

However, if you’re one of those people who advocate for Orange Line to Gainesville, add a picture to your dream: toll booths on I-66 at every entrance/exit ramp to finance the extension.

Unfortunately, you’ll also need a really powerful hallucinogenic drug to imagine the Fed’s kicking in another $900 million for another extension with no Federal airport at the terminus.  And do you think VDOT can find another $275 million in loose change behind its couch cushions?

The only realistic funding strategy is to make drivers pay a share, and make local counties pay the rest.  Tolls and local property tax increases will be the funding mechanism for extending Orange Line to Gainesville.  For Prince William commuters on I-66… that’s not a dream, it’s a nightmare.

As for Blue Line extension to eastern Prince William – it’s worse.  Tolls are already planned on I-95 to finance the HOT lanes.  Getting Blue Line to Prince William will depend upon one funding mechanism: raising local taxes.

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