Dulles Greenway toll rates rise again

Early morning photo of the Dulles Greenway tollbooths. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

Drivers on the Dulles Greenway can once again expect to pay higher tolls along the 14-mile, privately owned road.

On Tuesday, the State Corporation Commission approved an annual toll rate increase on the road, raising rates by 10 to 20 cents for drivers in two-axle vehicles. During non-peak hours, the toll will rise from $4.10 to $4.25, with a maximum one-way toll of $5.10 during peak hours.

The new rate was approved in February and initially set to go into effect Feb. 15, but Del. David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun), one of the toll road’s most outspoken critics and the leader of an ongoing legal battle against the highway’s operators, filed a request to delay the increase. Virginia law allows members of the General Assembly to delay court proceedings until 30 days after the legislative session ends, Ramadan said.

Loudoun commuters have complained for years about the high tolls along the road, as its operator, Toll Road Investors Partnership II, has continued to seek rate increases.

Last year, Ramadan was joined by the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in his request that the State Corporation Commission investigate the toll structure and give the public a chance to speak out against the rising costs. This year, the SCC hearing examiner rejected Ramadan’s request to lower the tolls and implement distance-based pricing. Ramadan has appealed that decision and will present his argument before the full commission this summer, he said.

In an interview Thursday, Ramadan said he was not surprised by the SCC’s initial rejection of his request.

“This is an uphill battle, because this is really trying to show the SCC’s own errors in the past in allowing this to happen,” he said. “We’re really fighting on two levels. We’re fighting not only the Greenway operators that are trying to protect their outrageous prices, but also the SCC staff who had let this happen, and they’re going to try to protect their status quo.”

Commuters, he said, are unanimous in their opposition to the tolls: As of this month, more than 10,000 people have signed a petition protesting the rates.

“It remains the number one subject I hear about from people when I’m out in the neighborhood, in the community,” Ramadan said.

In his complaint, Ramadan alleges that TRIP II is operating in violation of three relevant portions of the state code — requiring that the toll rates be reasonable, that the rates do not discourage use of the highway and that the operator does not make more than a reasonable profit.

“This case is solid, regardless of the lack of oversight that has taken place in the past,” Ramadan said. “We’re confident that eventually, whether it’s at the full commission level or at the Supreme Court, we will prevail and do two things: lower the prices and institute distance pricing.”

Caitlin Gibson is a local news and features writer for The Washington Post.


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