Bloomberg Law
Oct. 7, 2019, 1:40 PM

Justices Pass on D.C. Metro Airport Extension Dispute

Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson

Angry toll road users who don’t want to underwrite a big chunk of the D.C. Metro rail expansion to Dulles Airport in Northern Virginia couldn’t convince the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their case.

The justices rejected a petition Oct. 7 from motorists challenging the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority over steep increases in tolls on a stretch of roadway between the Capital Beltway and Dulles. Toll receipts are to secure debt financing for the final leg of the Metro Silver Line rail project to the airport.

Toll users contend MWAA doesn’t have the authority under the separation of powers and other doctrines to make motorists pay higher tolls to ultimately benefit rail services.

The federal government claims that the development of area airports doesn’t involve “federal power” so as to implicate separation of powers. The Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit agreed with that argument in 2018.

The case is Kerpen v. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, U.S., No. 18-1240, review denied 10/7/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at; John Crawley at