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Study: Reston Street Improvements May Cost Millions More Than Estimated

by Karen Goff — March 28, 2016 at 11:30 am 16 Comments

Traffic LightAdvocacy group Reston 2020 has taken a hard look at future funding for Reston transportation improvements and found the costs will be tens of millions of dollars more than expected.

A study group, the Reston Network Analysis Group, is currently examining how to implement an urban street grid in the areas around Reston’s transit centers. Grid-style streets will help traffic and pedestrian flow as Reston’s undergoes expected development in the next decades.

In a paper titled “Reston’s Coming Urban Area Transportation Network: An Early Look at the Cost of Streets and Transit in and around Reston’s Station Areas,” Reston 2020 Co-Chair Terry Maynard has found that the network may cost double the $2.6 billion officials estimate.

From the paper:

The overall cost for Reston’s urban transportation improvements will be nearly twice what has been presented to the RNAG over the next 40 years using conservative assumptions of future development and inflation. Developer stakeholders have millions of dollars to gain annually by shifting more of that large financial burden to the “public” rather than placing it upon themselves.

It is imperative that the RNAG, especially the community representatives, ensure that our community is protected from unwarranted and excessive ‘taxation’ for transportation improvements that will average $125 million per year and add several hundred dollars each year to residents’ property tax bills.

The road projects will be built with a combination of public funds, developer proffers and perhaps a special tax on transit-area businesses and residents.

“Reston households could see a property tax increase averaging about $340/year over the next 40 years depending on the scope of the ill-defined “public” contribution and the funding option selected,” says Maynard. “Overall, Reston residents are likely to contribute a half-billion dollars in taxes to the for-profit efforts of Reston’s station area developers if any of funding Options #3-#6 are selected, and in a worst case scenario, they may pay more than more than $1 billion dollars in taxes to finance needed urban transportation improvements.”

See the entire Reston 2020 analysis below.

Reston Urban Road & Transit Improvement Forecast

  • meh

    Yay more taxes! That’s what Reston needs. Well that and to bulldoze Shadowood

    • Wings!!

      Yes, that and also a Hooters.

      #HootersForReston

    • Greg

      How did all of that Shadowood drama work out? The manager sure seems to be uninformed at best.

  • Terry Maynard

    I would like to add one more point not included in the paper that came out of a parallel e-mail exchange we had with FCDOT on parts of this analysis. A key point of our analysis was that RNAG wasn’t addressing the need for additional bus transit to accommodate the new residents and workers of the station areas.

    FCDOT responded: “At this time, transit costs have not been incorporated into
    the Reston funding plan. It is currently our intent to accommodate transit needs with a restructuring of existing service. Unlike Tysons, Reston already has a significant amount of transit service, which provides internal circulation, as well as connections to areas located outside Reston. Some of this service will be reconfigured in the future to feed into the new Metrorail stations. No additional transit operating or capital costs, above the service currently provided are anticipated. This current service is paid for with county and state sources.”

    We responded, ” I’m a bit disturbed that you do not account for a greater transit need–especially if you want people to use it–and I would think the developers would be too. In particular, if the TSAs reach their “potential” (defined by FCDOT) of more than 100 million GSF of space, this will mean there will be about 200,000 jobs and residents in the TSAs (using DPZ standards on space/worker and 2 residents per high-rise DU). No one will be satisfied the current level of transit service. You may want to re-think that assumption.”

    So there you have it: Tripling the number of workers & residents in the station areas over 40 years with no additional bus transit service planned.

    • The Ghost of Reston Past

      To be fair, Fairfax Connector added a lot of service when the Wiehle station opened up in 2014 and it appears to be underutilized. I’m sure changes will occur as the Phase 2 stations open since FFC will no longer need to dedicate as much of their fleet as feeder buses to Wiehle. I think it’s best to wait to see how this plays out, but there’s plenty of existing capacity as it is right now.

      • Why do you bother?

        It is underutilized because it is unreliable and has terrible schedules, especially after 6:30 pm. Ask me how I know…

  • FixIt

    Nothing some money spent on public art can’t fix.

  • RestonYesterday

    I for one, am looking forward to the increase in population density, higher taxes, and 24/7 grid lock. That is why I decided to live in the suburbs in the first place.

  • Why do you bother?

    It may cost more?

  • We have some interesting times coming. For
    example, the new transportation funding plan passed in the McDonnell
    administration shifts gasoline taxes from cents per gallon to 3.5% wholesale
    tax. Since then the wholesale price of gasoline has dropped dramatically
    and income from gas taxes is down. So the revenue for transportation is no longer
    connected to the use of the roads and streets but more to what the Saudi’s charge on awholesale basis.

    And another element in the new transportation funding is what
    is called a “congestion tax” and that happens when you sell your home
    there is a special tax you pay based on the value of your home and this money
    is used to support transportation needs. But real estate prices, while
    improving, are below what they were a few years ago. So the funds for
    transportation are a function of real estate taxes and not use of
    transportation facilities etc.
    So the world is changing and Virginia and particularly Northern Virginia is
    left holding the bag. There is a notion in Richmond that those using transportation
    facilities should not pay but everyone else should. The really distinguished
    Virginia and sets us apart from 43 other state including Maryland, Kentucky,
    Tennessee and North Carolina where those using highways pay not elderly home
    owners who need to sell their home to live.

  • Steve

    I do not understand the outcry. If there is a funding shortage, the easy fix is raising Dulles Toll Road tolls, raising county real estate taxes, raising Reston Association assessments, charging a meals tax, raising gasoline taxes, charging a congestion fee and most important, charging people to park at the Reston Town Center. Oh, and let’s throw in a tax on barking dogs at the Baron Cameron dog park.

    • Ming the Merciless

      Toll Road is owned by MWAA which has no responsibility for, or interest in, the roads in Reston. Reston Association is not responsible for streets in Reston. As for gas taxes, not sure if the County can levy them, but right now AFAIK Federal and Virginia gas taxes are not specifically used for Reston streets.

      • Steve

        It was a J-O-K-E.

        • Ming the Merciless

          You spoiled the joke because some of the ideas are plausible.

          • Steve

            We want to get a dog and name it “Longwood Grover.”

      • Greg

        Most people don’t know this, but we pay special gas taxes in NoVA:

        Other Taxes include a 0.6 cpg petroleum storage tank fee (UST). There is an additional 2.1% sales tax on motor fuels for localities that are part of the Northern Virginia Transportation District.

        http://www.virginiagasprices.com/Tax_Info.aspx

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