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Va. Supreme Court rules against Loudoun supervisors, Ramadan in Dulles Greenway challenge

The Virginia Supreme Court today upheld the State Corporation Commission's denial of the Loudoun Board of Supervisors and former state Del. David Ramadan's years-long challenge to the toll rates along the Dulles Greenway.

The board and Ramadan (R) claimed the rates along the 13-mile privately owned road were “excessive, violating the law and contributing to the severe congestion in eastern Loudoun County.”

But the State Corporation Commission said the Greenway operators, TRIP II, were operating within guidelines established when the road was created and finalized in the 1990s.

According to the court's decision, evidence presented by TRIP II and staff show that the existing toll rates are not significantly discouraging the public's use of the Greenway.

Ramadan said “the deck was stacked against us.”

“In 2015, I filed legislation, HB 2344, that would have alleviated this problem by lowering the current rates, applied distance-based pricing to the Greenway, and limited yearly increases,” Ramadan said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the Greenway's extensive network of special interests which included high paid lobbyists, lawyers and former officials ensured that my bill never saw the light of day.”

Loudoun County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D) issued a statement, saying “by any standard, the tolls charged on the Greenway are excessive and we continue to believe that reducing the cost of using the Greenway would help to alleviate traffic congestion in the region without digging into the profits of TRIP II.”

In its decision, the Supreme Court noted: "Following the investigation, including an extensive evidentiary hearing, the [SCC] decided against reducing the tolls under the authority of Code 56-542 (D) ... We affirm the commission's decision."

For a one-way trip along the Greenway -- which does not include any distance-based pricing -- drivers pay around $6.

Comments


I have no problem buying the road back.  The General Assembly should have invested in this road back when it was built but even today we have a hard time getting the funds that NoVa deserves.

Yes, some things like the military and roads are best provided by gov’t and free to all.  As you learn in Econ 101, you cannot set a distinct price for every user.  You must set one price for all.  Thus, many folks who derive say $2/day in benefit don’t use the road now.  We leave a lot of excess value on the table by having it tolled. 

Note that those who claim the private investment is the problem fundamentally don’t understand the issue.  It’s no different than tolling I-66 inside the beltway.  It’s the function of a toll (and a single price for all) that causes the under-utilization.  Had the gov’t built this as a toll road and been required to finance the construction solely on tolls, the same issues would apply.  Politicians will tell you differently because they either fundamentally don’t understand economics (Randall) or are trying to grandstand (Letourneau).


Our conservative brethren never tire of pointing out that government is inherently bad and anything in the private sphere is just better.  Well, the Greenway should disabuse them of this notion but instead we see them adding gems like this to the discussion: “it’s a private road so they can charge what they like.” 

It’s a private road that ties into public roads and really represents nothing so much as a license awarded by the state of Virginia to the tollroad owners to endlessly gouge norther virginia commuters.

We should begin the long, painful and expensive process of correcting the problem.  Purchase the road back from the toll barons and return the road to the VDOT system.

Public Private Partnership just means some politician is selling out your interest to a private entity.


mrv52—so, basically, your solution is to do exactly what we’re all complaining about…avoid the Greenway to avoid the tolls and dump traffic onto secondary roads not designed to be major commuting routes.  These are neighborhoods, a woman on a bike just got killed on one of the roads you mentioned and where I lived a baby just got killed on Riverside, which has also taken a hideous amount of spillover traffic.

The traffic exists because of the Greenway, which was used to justify one development project after another and now has priced itself out of its ability to support what it created.  Eminent domain seems to me to be the only way out of this mess—and, btw, Phyllis—it lies entirely within your county.


I can remember reading a few years back that this highway has never once operated in the black.  It cost around $300 million to build and initially started out with around $250 million in bonds.  Not long after opening, they defaulted on those bonds because the revenues never came close to projections.  A new company took over and it’s still losing money. The debt now is pushing close to a $billion and they have no hope in repaying it.  They just keep tacking on their losses to the debt like a negative amortization loan.
The removal of the lights on Route 7 in another year or so will be the final nail in the coffin for TRIP II.  I’ll have no need to pay the $5.XX anymore when traffic improves on Route 7.


This whole thing is ridiculous. There is no doubt in my mind that high tolls on the Greenway are causing excessive congestion throughout eastern LoCo, but they probably should have thought of that a bit earlier. It’s a private road. There are free public road options. It’s the government’s own fault for creating this mess. As these unintended consequences block roads throughout the region at rush hour, now they are just gonna say “Whoa whoa whoa…maybe putting this in private hands wasn’t a good idea”? Certain things are better off run by the government and roads are high on that list.


the Greenway is a private road, if you think it cost too much use alternate routes. They have every right to dictate the tolls on the road


“yahoos in richmond” -

you mean the majority of va supremes, majority in va house & va senate, republicans who probably appointed scc?


@Loudoun Independent - the BOS passed a Resolution to not pass any more Resolutions. Except to commemorate Eagle Scouts.

No one, of course, thought this would work. But Ramadan sure collected a lot of email addresses (and votes) in return for his pointless petitions and the signs he illegally littered the county with.

Fortunately Mr. Myer has a plan to turn Shellhorne into the Toll Road II at tax payer expense so we can drive NEXT to the Toll Road for “free”.

What’s the final bill the county paid in legal fees for all this pointless blustering?


Clearly once again those yahoos in Richmond only prove how stupid and clueless they are.Morons…


Leesburg to Sterling:

Masons Lane to Battlefield, right on Sycolin, continue on Ashburn Farms, right on Pacific.

20 minutes between 6-7AM. 30 minutes after 7.

Reverse between 3-4 25 minutes. After 4, getting out of AOL area is a nightmare.

I have done this religiously for the last 6 years. Figured I have saved $4000.00 minimum.


The Supreme Court just needs to find that theSCC followed proper procedure in their deliberations.  I doubt the appellate jurists independently review the data, instead they just check that procedures were followed.  The fault lies with theSCC. Who are the member of the SCC, who appointed them, when do their terms end?  Isn’t the politicians who appoint the SCC members where commuters should apply pressure?


The answer is either condemn the toll road by eminent domain and rezone the entire area, as CT did with SCOTUS support.

OR, don’t use the road.

Another option would be to have the BoS pass a resolution to “Ban the Greenway for a Day”.  It would interesting which supervisors would resist such a non-binding resolution.

What say ye….?

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