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Final Dulles Toll Road price hike hearings this week

Wednesday - 9/12/2012, 6:25am  ET

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Toll increases are planned for the Dulles Toll Road to help pay for Metro's Silver Line, and the last two public hearings on the issue are being held this week.

Wednesday's meeting is at South Lakes High School in Reston, Va. and Thursday's happens at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean.

The hearings run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and are formatted like open houses, so people can stop by, ask questions and make comments.

"We've been working on this project for many years, 14 to be exact, and we recognized all the way along toll increases have been part of the funding package. I personally am happy to pay an additional quarter at a time to make possible the rail extension. Of course, we're going to be working hard to get additional state and federal funding and credit assistance to help reduce the impact on the toll road users," says Patty Nicoson, president of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association.

"What it will do is it will give travelers more choices, and of course rail is a really high quality choice," she says.

Virginia Delegate Randy Minchew opposes the plan. He says the toll hikes will create more congestion.

"I believe, as the prices go up, demand will go down. If demand goes down, these commuters are not going to stay at home and watch TV. They're going to go to their jobs in Tysons or D.C. So how are they going to get there? Answer: Route 7, Route 50, Route 621. And those roads are already at failing conditions during a.m. and p.m. peak hours," he says.

"There's a real inequity in the financing scheme that we have in place here, whereby Dulles Toll Road commuters who make the business decision not to ride the rail, are the ones being the primary financial contributing sources for the rail line they choose not to ride. It's kind of an inverse user fee," says Minchew.

Those unable to attend the public hearings can check out the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's online version of the open house presentation and submit comments online.

Comments can be submitted online or through the mail until Sept. 16.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)