Rush hour tolls would increase 40% under Dulles Greenway proposal

Tolls during a morning or evening commute on the Dulles Greenway would jump by 40% under an application to raise tolls on the 14-mile expressway between Leesburg and the Dulles Toll Road in Virginia.

In its proposal to the State Corporation Commission, the private company that owns the Greenway would also raise tolls by 22% during off-peak hours.

Currently, riding any distance during peak hours on the Greenway costs $5.80. Under the new proposal, the toll would be $8.10, from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. eastbound, and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. westbound.

During nonpeak hours, tolls would rise from $5.25 to $6.40.

The entity that owns the Greenway, Toll Road Investors Partnership II, said that the toll increases are needed to keep up with growing debt obligations. Under the 1988 state law that led to private construction of the Greenway, proposed toll increases are subject to approval by the State Corporation Commission.

Earlier this year, TRIP II said it intended to file for the toll increase. The current toll rates went into effect in January 2022.

In February 2022, two bills that could have led to reduced toll charges and instituted distance-based tolling on the Greenway and also require rejiggering a new Virginia law was stopped in Richmond.

Renee Hamilton, Chief Executive Officer for the Greenway given the Greenway’s efforts over the past few years to change state law to help facilitate lower tolls and distance-based tolling, “filing this application was not our first choice.”

Drivers on other private toll roads in the region pay based on the length of their trip. Drivers on the Greenway should be treated the same way,” said Hamilton. “Unfortunately, the General Assembly – and some in Loudoun County – have blocked our efforts and we are obligated to seek tolls at a level that will meet our debt obligations and that will eventually allow the Greenway an opportunity to earn a reasonable return.”

In the new application, filed July 11, the company said its current liabilities total more than $1.1 billion — far greater than the $311 million in debt that funded construction of the Greenway.

As the state’s sole fully private roadway, TRIP II said it incurs expenses that are not incurred by public roadways. It pays property taxes to Loudoun County, fees to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority and nearly $750,000 yearly to Virginia State Police to provide law enforcement response and patrols.

By contrast, the state and taxpayers have funded improvements to Virginia State Route 7 and Virginia State Route 28, making the roads into viable, free alternatives to the Greenway.

Future increases are likely, according to the application, adding that “TRIP II believes that the Proposed Tolls, assuming they will be a first step in a series of future increases in the Company’s tolls to be granted by the Commission, will allow it to continue to meet its debt service obligations and give it the opportunity to generate a reasonable return in the future.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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