Dulles Greenway’s tolls inspire “Highway Robbery” protest song by Angela Petry

Updated, 12:10 a.m., with background on Petry and the song.

Original post: Angela Petry doesn’t even have to drive the Dulles Greenway every day, and she’s still outraged that it costs $5.55 one way at peak times. So she wrote a protest song, called “Highway Robbery.” Here’s a piece WJLA-7 did with Petry, in which she performed the song live on Skype:

As you may know, the Greenway is privately owned by the Macquarie Group of Australia, and it’s the only privately owned toll road in the state. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has long protested the cost of driving the Greenway, and it was his characterization of the tolls as “highway robbery” which inspired Petry to write the song, even though she lives in West Virginia. But the tolls are regulated by the State Corporation Commission, and Gov. Bob McDonnell told WJLA there was nothing he could do.

Petry, 44, is a stay-at-home mom of two in Morgan County, W.Va. She’s been singing in local cover bands, including the Flashbacks, and she said Thursday that she wrote “Highway Robbery” last Saturday and recorded it in a nearby studio Sunday. As in, four days ago. By Tuesday, it was on TV. Technology is something, ain’t it?

Here’s a link to the full rocking audio version of the song, courtesy of WTOP. More details on Petry, the song and its lyrics are after the jump.

Petry grew up playing the piano and singing in school choirs and assorted musical productions. She stayed home to school her two children but kept her hand in the music biz, and says “there’s a lot of artistic talent happening in West By God Virginia.”

Folks in her neighborhood, near Berkeley Springs, often use the Greenway either to get to Dulles or to D.C., rather than taking the I-70/I-270 route favored by those “northerners” in Morgan County. So her husband had recently driven to D.C., and when Petry looked at the credit card bill, she was floored by the $5.55 charges.

Thinking more broadly, she asks, “What about the people who live there?” She also knows folks who commute from Morgan County to D.C., which is “one of the prices you have to pay for living in almost heaven.” Rooting around on the ol’ Internet, she came across Wolf’s attempts to curb the Greenway’s costs. On Saturday, “we started coming up with the lyrics, and threw together the tune.”

She called up a couple of her band members, and they went to a state-of-the-art recording studio in Posey Hollow on Sunday. She laid down three vocal tracks, guitarist Mike Marzullo played two guitar tracks and a drum track, bassist Dan Zarcone added his part and that was that. It was mixed later in the day, she had it in her hands Sunday night, and sent it out with a news release Monday.

Now she’s hearing about the song from all over. “Apparently it’s still a pretty hot issue,” she said of the Greenway tolls. She said the Flashbacks would “probably add this to our set list.” Here are the lyrics:

Highway robbery

Sending our money overseas

Making a mockery of you and me

Because it's highway robbery

They built a road in the countryside

Rolling green hills for miles and miles

The farms and the fields no factories

But don't you dare think you can drive it for free

Because it's highway robbery

Fourteen miles and it's nice and smooth

From Leesburg to Dulles you can really move

Drive every day but you cry at night

Cause of the price of the tolls is out of sight

The Commonwealth should stand up strong

Tell those Aussies they're just plain wrong

Roll back the tolls or make it free

No more highway robbery

Tom Jackman is a native of Northern Virginia and has been covering the region for The Post since 1998.

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