In a few months, VDOT will turn the switch on its new tolls of I-66 Inside the Beltway. Commuters at rush hour in the peak direction on all lanes of I-66 can pay a toll without 2 people in the vehicle between the Beltway and the Potomac River.
These new tolls will collect a lot of cash, and VDOT has stated it will use some of it to improve transportation and transit for the corridor Inside the Beltway. This means Arlington County will be a large beneficiary of the Inside the Beltway tolls.
But Arlington County want more, and wants to grab toll money from OUTSIDE the beltway too. As part of its bid winning strategy, the winning consortium—CINTRA of Spain, Meridiam of France, and Ferrovial also of Spain—promised $500 Million advance in cash to VDOT. This money was supposed to be used for transportation improvements outside the beltway. It is essentially a prepayment of toll revenue that the consortium will collect over the next 50 years.
The Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA) is charged with allocating the Outside the Beltway funding. Seeing money dangling from the highway (and the homes, backyards, and neighborhoods that CINTRA et al’s widening will destroy), Arlington County wants some too. Even though Arlington is wholly located inside the Beltway, they want to grab money from outside the beltway.
And what do they need Outside funding for? $23 Million would build another local street entrance and curb street to their East Falls Church metro station. The rest would be spent on building two bus bays. One might wonder why two bus parking areas would cost $6 million dollars, but that is another subject.
Why send Outside the Beltway funds for some local County improvement projects Inside the Beltway? VDOT has been very clear about having two separate and distinct projects for I-66: Inside and Outside. Inside the Beltway, homes, neighborhoods, and transit oriented communities are largely preserved and kept sacred by VDOT. Outside the Beltway, homes, neighborhoods, the last trees, and transit oriented communities are mere obstacles for the bulldozers to destroy and pour concrete on so CINTRA et al can ensure profitable congestion for half a century.
The toll money collected over the remains of Outside the Beltway communities should remain outside the Beltway. The NVTA should ensure they do exactly that when they decide how to allocate the funds in October 2017.
Arlington’s request seeks improvements to the East Falls Church Metro station, with the lion’s share – $23 million – to provide design and engineering of a second entrance to the station from Washington Boulevard. The overall project cost is estimated at $96 million.