Starting in January, drivers will have to shell out more money to ride the Dulles Toll Road. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is asking for the increase to pay for Metro's Silver Line and is holding a series of public hearings to get feedback and offer answers.
The first meeting was held Thursday night at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Va. Dozens of residents attended. Many oppose the toll increases.
David LaRock showed up with a giant pink pig in tow. The pig is a billboard of sorts asking residents to sign a petition saying no to toll increases.
LaRock says he knew there would be an increase, but he's alarmed by the amount. He says, right now, it costs him $10 to go from his home in Leesburg to D.C. With the increases, he will soon be paying over $20. LaRock says it's important to take a stand.
"If we can pull enough people together and let the elected officials, who are really the decision makers here, know that it matters to people," he says.
Right now, the driver of a two-axle vehicle is paying $2.25. On January 1, the cost jumps 25 cents to $2.75. Those increases will continue until 2015 when it will cost drivers $4.50.
Many local residents are concerned about the rising cost, which they say is unfair to anyone who has to use the toll road. Others are concerned about what it could mean for alternate routes like Route 7, Route 28 and Interstate 66. They believe those roads will see as overwhelming increase in volume.
At the public forum, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority had experts on hand to answer questions and help ease concerns. They say it is part of a 30-day feedback session. Residents can and have been submitting their questions online too.
MWAA spokesman Rob Yingling says while the tolls will rise, the hearings are important to help officials identify alternate funding sources down the line.
"There are factors which will mitigate some of the future toll increases like additional government funding, favorable financing terms and cost reductions, all of which we're working hard to achieve," Yingling says.
Many residents aren't convinced. They believe the increasing tolls are a done deal. They are hoping lawmakers will get involved and help stem the rising costs.
There are two more public hearings scheduled. The next will be on September 12 at South Lakes High School in Reston. The last one will be on September 13 at Spring Hill Elementary School in McLean.
MWAA says the comments will be put into a detailed report that will be provided to a board committee in October and the full board in November.