Spotlight Shines on Toll Road in 32nd District Race
Forrest starts petition on toll increases, while Howell calls for action for Gov. McDonnell
With one debate under their belts, the Patrick Forrest-Janet Howell race is in full swing with a clear focus heading into the last two months before Election Day: the Dulles Toll Road.
Before last week's debate, 32nd Senate District challenger Forrest (R) had been raising awareness on a study from the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority that predicted fees on the Dulles Toll Road could exceed $17 roundtrip within the next five years, and $17 each way by 2040.
He also has been pointing his finger at Sen. Janet Howell (D) for being "silent" on the issue, which he asserted in a Letter to the Editor to the Fairfax County Times and at last week's debate hosted by the Arlington County Civic Federation.
But Howell said she has seen the predictions for toll increases, and has been working to find funding at the state and federal level to bring down costs of the Silver Line project, therefore alleviating the need to raise tolls to what she calls an "unreasonable" amount.
The MWAA study also points to a lack in federal funding, compared to similar projects around the country, as an issue. With Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) bonds, which Howell told Patch after last week's debate she would work to secure for the project, the tolls are expected to be $9 roundtrip. Without TIFIA, MWAA predicts the toll fees will stand at $18 roundtrip by 2016.
On Monday, Howell and Del. Ken Plum (D-36th District) sent a letter to Gov. Bob McDonnell requesting he not only include toll rates that do not exceed what was originally planned in his next transportation proposal, but to also have the state buy down tolls in Northern Virginia just as he did with the $895 million he sent downstate for toll relief.
"We believe the residents and businesses using the Dulles Toll Road also deserve relief," they wrote.
The letter comes five days after Forrest launched an online petition encouraging Northern Virginians to speak out against $17 toll rates.
After redistricting earlier this year, the 32nd Senate District includes parts of Oakton, Vienna, Herndon, Reston, McLean and Arlington. Not sure if you're included in the 32nd Senate District? Click here to find out.