Legislative attempts to halt the steadily rising tolls on the privately owned Dulles Greenway have failed in Richmond in recent weeks, deepening frustration among local officials and commuters who have long opposed the road’s price structure.
Del. David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun) is one of the most outspoken critics of the toll rates implemented by the greenway’s operator, Toll Road Investors Partnership II. Ramadan introduced a bill to the Virginia General Assembly last month that aimed to force TRIP II to lower its rates and apply distance-based pricing — meaning that drivers would pay only for the mileage they travel.
But the bill died Feb. 5 in the House Commerce and Labor Committee, despite testimony from Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) and regulatory expert Robert Van Hoecke in favor of the legislation.
Ramadan vowed to continue the battle and said that the road’s owners had used “every bit of their influence” to kill the bill.
“While I am very disappointed that the greenway and their high priced lobbyists convinced some of my colleagues in the House to defeat my bill, I am not giving up the fight against outrageous tolls on the Dulles Greenway,” Ramadan said in a statement.
Similar efforts by other Loudoun lawmakers, including Virginia Sens. Richard H. Black (R) and Jennifer Wexton (D) and Del. Randy Minchew (R), have also failed to advance in the current General Assembly session.
Ramadan said he will focus his efforts on his pending case before the Virginia State Corporation Commission. In 2013, Ramadan requested that the SCC investigate the toll structure on the Dulles Greenway and allow residents and commuters to share their feedback about the road. Last year, the SCC hearing examiner rejected Ramadan’s request to lower the tolls and implement a distance-based pricing structure. Ramadan appealed the decision and said that he expected to present his argument before the full commission in the coming months.
“My appeal to the SCC is still alive, and I’m prepared to take this case to the Virginia Supreme Court if necessary,” Ramadan said.
A Dulles Greenway representative declined to comment on the recent legislation or the ongoing SCC case.
Northern Virginia residents, commuters and local lawmakers have expressed outrage for years about the tolls. The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors formally joined Ramadan’s request to the SCC, and Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), the Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce also endorsed Ramadan’s bill.
Ramadan’s online petition to lower the toll rates — www.lowergreenwaytolls.com — has gotten more than 12,000 signatures from residents and commuters, he said.
Despite the ongoing controversy, TRIP II is seeking higher tolls again this year. A proposed 2.8 percent increase, which is awaiting the approval of the SCC, would mean that most drivers would pay an additional 10 cents during non-peak hours, raising the cost from $4.20 to $4.30. During peak travel periods, the price would rise 15 cents, from $5.10 to $5.25.
After the defeat of Ramadan’s bill, York echoed Ramadan’s frustration and determination to succeed in the case before the SCC.
“I want to thank Delegate Ramadan for filing this legislation to deal with the high tolls on the greenway. I am extremely disappointed with the committee’s vote to not pass the bill forward,” York said in a statement. “Loudoun County is committed to keep fighting through the SCC case.”