Hang on to your wallets, Loudoun County commuters — the owners of the Dulles Greenway are at it again.

TRIP II — part of an Australian conglomerate — is now seeking a whopping 30 percent increase in tolls over the next five years. That’s the largest increase yet.

But this time there’s hope.

I spent much of the four years I served in the Virginia General Assembly fighting the Greenway, both with legislation and by challenging their toll rates with the State Corporation Commission, known as the SCC.

The Greenway had two big advantages during my fight — the best lawyers and lobbyists money can buy and the Herring Law, a section of the code that guaranteed 10 years of locked-in toll rate increases.

I spent hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars of my own money fighting the Greenway, but in the end, the SCC ruled that the Herring law meant the commission did not have the ability to stop increases.

The Greenway still has those expensive lawyers, but the good news is that they no longer have the Herring Law to protect them. The law expired at the end of 2019, and Loudoun County successfully fought an effort to extend it.

That means that, for the first time, the SCC can actually investigate the Greenway and decide whether raising tolls would “materially discourage” the use of the road — the test that is outlined in the statute.

Of course, we know it does, and the rate increases will make it even worse. Thankfully, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has chosen to take a stand. My own Dulles District Supervisor, Matt Letourneau (R), has always been my partner in this fight, and he was joined by all of his colleagues, including Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D), in deciding to wage a true challenge to TRIP II’s application. The board gave Loudoun County Attorney Leo Rogers significant resources to challenge the toll increases, and Mr. Rogers used it wisely to bring in top-shelf Virginia regulatory lawyers who know how to win SCC cases.

The first step was a public hearing last week in which the SCC heard from current and former elected officials, business owners and the public about the impact that the toll increases will have on our county. Detailed testimony was given about the millions of dollars that the county has had to spend to build Greenway alternatives — not because it wants to, but because it has to due to congestion and safety concerns.

The case will be heard by the commission in August, and there’s still plenty of time for citizens to submit their own comments in writing. Go online to bit.ly/3e87QSb for more details.

Regardless of the outcome of this case, there’s still work to do in the General Assembly. New state Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D), who now serves the 87th District as I once did, has proven to be a real leader in this battle, unafraid to take on special interests and their allies. In the past General Assembly session, however, the entire Loudoun delegation to Richmond was not on the same page, and they have not agreed to the strategy set forth by our Board of Supervisors. This coming session, they need to be.

In the meantime, let’s rally together as Loudouners to convince the SCC to do its job and regulate the Greenway as the statute requires. With the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the great potential for economic development around Loudoun’s Metro stations, the last thing we need is another big toll increase. Let’s end this highway robbery.

David Ramadan represented the 87th District of the Virginia House of Delegates from 2012 to 2016.

(10) comments

BobOhneiserEsq

Do any of the politicians who jump at the chance to spout partisan rhetoric have any economic education or financial experience? I bet our local high school children could figure out what is going on? (hint - political campaign contributions) Here is the data:

They bought the Greenway for about $600 million and then refinanced it for over $1 billion based on their publicly available financials. (they already gave themselves their profits as any buyout by the state etc would have to cover the debt. ) Now ask yourself how the heck could the BOS maintain that they should only be assessed a bit of $400 million? The discounted cash flow from their own financials out in time would easily put the value in the billions.

Second - doesn't anyone wonder why the BOS both discounts the assessment AND doesn't even suggest that Loudoun riders on this road pay a different toll than out of staters who drive on this 100% in Loudoun road? When do we raise our expectations of professional competency for the BOS from being party members to a functioning corporate body? Maybe the majority of Loudoun should vote next time!!! :-)

Charles Houston

The Greenway owners have somehow borrowed zillions, yet they know little about economics. You never maximize profits by raising prices time and time again, since that shrinks demand. Instead, there's a sweet spot where lowering prices stimulates more demand, increases revenues and thus is more profitable.

Charles Houston

Who are the local politicians who are "not on the same page" in opposing Greenway toll increases?

Sunday Sinner

I stay off this effin road except when I'm taking the 1 dollar metro/reston bus.

Big Daddy 348759

Isn't restricting the Greenway tools unfair? I don't like the high tolls either, but the state did sell the toll road to a private company with the knowledge and understanding they were a for-profit company whose single goal was to make money via tolls. Just strikes me as somewhat deceitful to knowingly enter into an agreement and then a few years later not like the deal you entered into so are trying to restrict the recuperation of funds. Loudoun County and Virginia knowingly entered into this agreement...correct? Seems to me our elected officials are the ones that got us into this situation......

Chris McHale

I don't use the Greenway and will admit my ignorance about it. My understanding is that it is a privately owned roadway. If that is true why are they not allieed yo charge whatever they want as a toll. But likewise they should also be responsible for such items as collecting tolls. Road maintenance to include snow removal, traffic control and all other such state and local provided services for public roadways.

David Dickinson

The Greenway is a deep dark secret that nobody ever uncovers. It is odd. Why would the SCC stab the people of Virginia in the back so often. Why would Mark Herring do the same. In short, the current Greenway owners have used the Greenway as an asset to secure an enormous amount of loans. This money was not used to take care of the Greenway, but covering their debt payments keeps the toll rates high, in part. The Greenway's finances have never been opened to the public. We can't tell what the owners are doing with the money.

Smarti

I just abstain from using that road and hold on to my money. Yes it will cost me extra time but I can use that time to listen to my podcast. I'm not going to make easy for someone to reach in my pocket.

David Dickinson

The "Herring Law" was sponsored by then-State Senator Mark Herring. Yes, the same Mark Herring from Leesburg that is now the Attorney General. The same Mark Herring that admitted to parading around in blackface and yet, while Democrats need to destroy monuments, they apparently turn a blind eye to our local racist who currently holds office. This same Mark Herring put a law in place that guaranteed the Greenway gouged you for years. Exactly why did people vote for Mark Herring? Why has his resignation not been demanded?

marv

The same Mark Herring who promised that he would "be a friend" to gun owners. The same ark Herring who owes his election to Bloomberg's one million dollar contribution and thus is a proven Blomberg puppet.

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