Transportation Policy

Highway Tolls Have Officials Upset

Independent road authorities accused of misspent funds, lavish lifestyles

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The governors of two states, the US transportation secretary and the mayor of Washington, DC on Tuesday blasted the governing body of the Dulles Toll Road in Virginia. Meanwhile, a group of six mayors in Orange County, California have banded together to lobby against a proposal to impose tolls on the Interstate 405 freeway.

Motorists in the Old Dominion are paying rapidly rising tolls to subsidize the $7 billion Metrorail extension to the Dulles International Airport. The toll road, rail project and airport are under the control of the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority (MWAA), which is in turn run by a board appointed by the governors of Virginia and Maryland, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) secretary and the DC mayor. The latter officials cited an investigation by the DOT's inspector general that showed motorists were subsidizing not just the pricey transit project, but also underwriting the lavish lifestyle of MWAA board members.