VDOT Squelches Free Speech

In a highway robbery reminiscent of the Robin Hood days, the Commonwealth Transportation Board—an unelected and unaccounted body of appointed bureaucrats—has decided to saddle the users of the Dulles Toll Road with the costs of the states contribution toward extending Metro to the Dulles Airport (see: “Railroaded Again”).

The tolls, which are due to double at most exits, will increase on May 22. In anticipation of the toll increase, a local group opposing this unfair and discriminatory tax increase on a select group of Virginians (i.e., the users of the Dulles Toll Road), posted banners on some overpasses alerting the drivers of the upcoming toll increase and directing them to their website (http://www.notollincrease.com) where they can find details about the pending toll increase and the Dulles Rail boondoggle.

It’s important to note that several days earlier, the VA Dept. of Rail & Public Transportation (VDRPT) had mounted similar banners across all the overpasses directing interested parties to a pro-rail website (http://www.dullesmetro.com).

Prior to posting the signs, NoTollIncrease.com checked with Fairfax County Government officials responsible for regulating the posting of signs on public roadways; they had advised that no permit was needed to display these signs (according to these officials only political campaign signs require a permit and the posting of a bond).

Today the NoTollIncrease.com banners were torn down apparently by VDOT, while the DullesMetro.com banners were left intact. So much for free speech on the Dulles Toll Road.

10 Responses to VDOT Squelches Free Speech

  1. No toll increases? But that approach is at the heart of the Kilgore-Howell-McSweeeney “let the private sector do it” transportation philosophy. Get with the program! Once those roads are fully privatized if you complain about price increases you’ll be labeled an anti-free economy pinko!

  2. Anonymous: I have no problem with tolls for building new roads or even for improving current ones. Tolls are the ultimate example of users fees–those that use the road pay for it.

    However, I have a big problem when the tolls are being diverted and used for mass transit projects. Studies show that Dulles Rail will do little to remove any congestion from the Dulles Toll Road. Yet those using the DTR are being asked to pay for the Dulles Rail boondoggle, even though they will continue being stuck in traffic.

    This is nothing short of government sponsored highway robbery.

  3. I think it’s time we all owned up to the reality here: the Dulles Rail Project is worthless.

    It won’t help traffic.

    It will bring explosive growth to the areas around the extended orange line – areas that are not equipped to deal with that kind of growth.

    And it will cost the state billions and billions of dollars – not to mention the costs of upgrading/building new schools and utilities in the areas effected.

    And for what? So rich people can ride the metro out to Dulles every 2 years when they take a plane to the Bahamas? Wouldn’t an expansion of the high-speed bus service accomplish the same thing (provide transit to and from Dulles), for probably 1% of the cost?

  4. Paul: You hit the nail right in the head!!!

  5. Where are the flying cars? It’s 2005 and they promised us flying cars by now.

  6. Has anyone spotted any editorial writers among our print media colleagues weigh in on this issue? They’re normally very quick to leap to the defense of anyone pushing the envelope of freedom of expression…. Of course, maybe it all depends who who is pushing the envelope and what they are expressing.

  7. I can’t buy Phil and Paul’s argument that it won’t help traffic except – it won’t help trafic. Traffic on the toll road will still be snarled, just not as snarled as it would be without the rail. If a parallel new road was built the result would be the same – both roads would be snarled at rush hour.

    Would Paul be any more amenable to paying tolls up front for a new road to be built than for Metro?

    I seriously doubt you can spit on a nickle for the difference it will ultimately make in terms of congestion during rush hour. But the road will be available around the clock and Metro won’t, so the difference is not going to be measured in congestion, but in convenience.

    The rail will cost far more to build and carry fewer people, slower, at higher cost and in less comfort. It is a lifetime subsidy for members of the transit workers unions. I believe Phil and Paul are correct in being opposed to rail, but for the wrong reasons.

    The area around the airport and along the rail line is going to have growth, regardless. If they are not prepared for it, then they need to elect different supervisors.

    The sign situation is unfortunate. The anti-toll crowd has a right to express their opinion, but I don’t like signs very much – of any kind. If they want to go and hold up a banner and be there to defend their right to do so, then I think that is free speech. Hanging a sign on the overpass and leaving it is just littering, and VDOT should be allowed to remove the sign, in which case they should remove all signs.

    What is more disturbing to me is selective enforcement – removing some signs and not others. All too often we get a law passed because of some special circumstance or particularly egregious act by some sociopath who thinks he is better, smarter, or more privileged than the rest of us. This is the kind of person who thrives on getting over on someone, even when there is no advantage.

    Such laws lie around unused until someone has a grudge, and then they are applied selectively. See the story in todays paper about the political candidate from Manassas charged with animal cruelty because his dog ran away and got hit by a car.

    The people who selectively pull this nonsense are sociopaths, the kind of people who just have to get one over, solely because they can.

    When we have government officials who are so blind to elementary concepts of right and wrong, we are all in big trouble, not just those who support or don’t support Dulles Rail.

  8. Ray:

    Yes, I generally support roads over rail.

    If I genuinely liked the Dulles Rail project, maybe I could understand a toll…after all, these are the people who will supposedly use it (so…it’s a user fee. sort of…)

    But I hate it.

  9. I feel the same way. If I have to pay tolls or taxes, I’d like them to go where they have the greatest utility. I don’t think rail meets that test, but the numbers are really hard to work out. I take it you are not opposed to the toll, just its re-direction to rail.

    Suppose Dulles rail becomes a transport system to carry baggage handlers from residences in town to their jobs. Is that good or bad? Wouldn’t it be cheaper just to buy them a house at Dulles?

  10. Ok, I have a question for Ray Hyde regarding his “carry fewer people slower” comment in regard to the metro extension. Where have you found this information? I have not seen the studies that you speak of and I’d like to read over them.

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