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McDonnell: Low Bids Will Mean Lower Tolls

Virginia governor says savings on construction will be passed on to savings by drivers.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell says the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority's five proposals for construction of Phase 2 of the Silver Line came in far below expectations - which he predicts will mean major savings for Virginia taxpayers and users of the Dulles Toll Road.

MWAA received proposals last week from Bechtel Transit Partners, Capital Rail Constructors, Dulles APC Railbuilders, Dulles Metrorail Connectors, and Silver Line Constructors. The estimates range from $1.17 billion to $1.37 billion, MWAA said.

MWAA is expected to conduct a detailed review of the proposals and award a contract later this spring.

The $2.7 billion Phase 2 is being built without federal funding (Phase 1 received $900 million in federal dollars). It will run from Reston's Wiehle Avenue to Dulles International Airport and into Ashburn. It is expected to be finished in 2018. Part of the costs of Phase 2 will be borne by tolls from the Dulles Toll Road.

Phase 1, from East Falls Church to Wiehle Avenue, is 90 percent complete and it slated to open in December.

"The Dulles Corridor Metrorail Extension Project is one of the largest and most important infrastructure projects currently underway in the United States," McDonnell said on Tuesday. "Over the past two years, my administration, working with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, local leaders from Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, and MWAA, has taken steps to reduce the original cost estimates for Phase 2 by over $1 billion and eliminate mandatory union preferences from the bid documents.

"Last Friday, we saw the results of our efforts come to fruition, with the lowest of the proposals coming in over $300 million below estimates," McDonnell said. "These additional cost savings are crucial to our continued efforts to ensure that the tolls necessary to finance this project remain as low as possible."

McDonnell said in a release that the low proposal numbers, combined with an additional $150 from the state and the $300 million from the 2013 transportation package, there will be "a significant reduction in the projected toll increases in the years to come."

Tolls last rose Jan.1, making a trip through the Main Toll Plaza $1.75. There will be an additional increase in January 2014 to $2.50 at the main plaza.

However, some citizens groups fear the tolls could increase exponentially in coming years. Advocacy Group has said rising tolls may make the toll road "the highway of the one percent."

The group has predicted a one-way trip could cost $20 in 2050 — and divert nearly 100,000 cars off the toll road and onto area streets.

Michelle Thomas April 24, 2013 at 09:38 PM
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