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Greenway tolls go up on Friday, again

Thursday - 4/10/2014, 4:21pm  ET

WASHINGTON -- Tolls are already high on the Dulles Greenway, but starting Friday the rates will go even higher.

A one-way trip during rush hour jumps from $4.90 to $5.10, regardless of whether you pay with cash, credit card or E-ZPass. For commuters on the Dulles Toll Road, the trip will cost minimum $6.10 because of the exit fee. Round-trip, five days a week through the Dulles Toll Road could cost commuters $3,000 per year, or more.

"It is unbelievable that in the midst of a major investigation into the practices of the Greenway, the owners of the Greenway would seek yet another rate increase," says Del. David Ramadan of Loudoun County.

"It is even more unbelievable that the SCC decided to grant the increase prior to our challenge even being heard by the full commission. It clearly demonstrates that the deck is stacked against our commuters, on whose behalf I am fighting."

Ramadan is suing the owners of the Dulles Greenway because he believes the high tolls "materially discourage users" from driving on the highway. In simpler terms, commuters purposely avoid the Greenway because it's too expensive. Drivers often take 28 either north or south, then use local roads to reach their destination. It takes longer and those back roads aren't designed to deal with the volume of cars, but it saves money.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) will rule on his case soon, but Ramadan is prepared to lose this round because the SCC also approved this fare hike. He plans to appeal the decision to the Virginia Supreme Court.

TRIP II, which operates the Greenway, applied to raise the tolls in February. The SCC delayed the decision because Ramadan objected. Under Virginia law, the SCC was not allowed to make a decision until 30 days after the General Assembly from the regular session.

An issue that could come up in the case is distance pricing. While the Greenway does have different prices based on distance, it doesn't change for each exit, as is the case on the 495 Express Lanes and Maryland's Intercounty Connector. Ramadan wants the TRIP II to consider distance pricing to make the Greenway more in line with other toll highways in the region.

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