Tolls will go up Tuesday on the privately owned Dulles Greenway, the first in a three-step increase that could see motorists paying as much as $3 a trip by 2007.

A Virginia regulatory agency ruled in July that the toll could go up immediately to $2.40, a 26 percent increase over the current $1.90 maximum charge.

The State Corporation Commission approved letting the road's owners raise the fee to $2.70 on Dec. 31, 2005, and to as much as $3 on July 1, 2007.

The new full fare will be charged only during peak hours, 6 to 9 a.m. for eastbound traffic and 4 to 7 p.m. for westbound traffic. At other times, the toll will be 30 cents to 40 cents cheaper, depending on which exit motorists use.

Rates are higher for vehicles with more than three axels, and there is a discount for vehicles with a Smart Tag.

Motorists proceeding onto the Dulles Toll Road pay an additional fee.

The Greenway's owners, Toll Road Investors Partnership II L.P., sought the fare increases to help pay off debt. The partnership's financial records show that it has lost money every year since 1993, when road construction began, state officials said. The 14-mile Greenway from Dulles International Airport to Leesburg opened to traffic in 1995. About 65,000 cars use the Greenway on a weekday.

Commuters have faced three toll increases since 1999.

-- LESLIE SHEPHERD