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LTE: Ramadan Complaint Targets Wrong Tolls

A reader suggests that Ramadan focus on reducing DTR, rather than Greenway, fees.

Dear Editor, 

Del. David Ramadan (R-87) has announced that he is making a formal complaint against the proposed Dulles Greenway toll increase. Del. Ramadan is barking up the wrong tree if he is genuinely interested in securing relief from oppressive tolls … and he knows it.

Responding to a Greenway toll increase request, Del. Ramadan demanded Greenway rates comply with Virginia code.

FACT … Recently, the Greenway – the privately operated road west of Dulles International Airport – requested a 3.54 percent increase in the toll rate, or $0.14, which they are allowed by law. This 3.54 percent is what Del. Ramadan is complaining about.

FACT … Over the next 13 months, Dulles Toll Road (DTR) rates are set to increase 55 percent to pay for the Metro rail extension into Loudoun. After that, the rate of increase will be much higher.

FACT … Del. Ramadan is ignoring this patently unfair DTR tolling scheme, which benefits his pro-rail developer friends, at the expense of his constituents.

The cost of the taxpayer funded Dulles rail development scheme that is playing out is far greater than what was presented during public hearings. Recently it has been disclosed by the MWAA CEO that he is planning to compete with Loudoun for new commercial and industrial business by developing airport property. The net to Loudoun will be a loss of projected revenue from commercial development stimulated by the Metro which we were told would help pay Loudoun’s share of the rail boondoggle.

Del. Ramadan would serve his constituents well if he shifted his effort to advance initiatives such as pushing for Virginia to retake control of the DTR from MWAA, an act that would save billions in tolls. He can also push MWAA CEO Jack Potter to drop tolls on the DTR altogether and instead pay for the Metro train to Dulles Airport by tolling Dulles Airport customers who use the center lanes – the free Dulles Access Road – to Dulles.

Del. Ramadan, your people are at risk if we are to avoid the perfect storm of tolls, traffic and taxes that is bearing down on the region. So what will it be, sir? More diversion and distraction, or will you break ranks with the insiders and fix this mess? 

David LaRock
Hamilton

Rob Whitfield December 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Dave LaRock is right to show the wrong emphasis of Delegate Ramadan's complaints about tolls. The Dulles Greenway was privately built with private funds in the early 1990s - not Virginia taxpayer dollars as was the case for the Dulles Toll Road. Delegate Ramadan is following in the footsteps of Congressman Wolf who, for unexplained reasons, refuses to uses his authority to help lessen the toll burden for Dulles Toll Road users. The DTR was built by the Commonwealth of Virginia on land leased from the US government, prior to the creation of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority in 1987. Congressman Wolf called the Greenway toll increases "highway robbery" in 2010. In response to my question to him then about the DTR toll increases, Congressman Wolf said (words to the effect) "The toll revenue from the Greenway goes overseas to Australia while the toll revenue from the Dulles Toll Road is being reinvested in the corridor." http://wolf.house.gov/index.cfm?sectionid=122&sectiontree=7,93,122 Congressman Wolf deserves credit for demanding audits of MWAA and the Dulles Rail project but has so far failed to demand that Silver Line riders who will directly benefit from its operation pay anything of the $6+ billion capital cost. If Phase 2 is to be built, Silver Line riders should pay at least $1 billion of the cost. As to Dulles Airport Access Road tolling, MWAA and airlines using Dulles may block efforts claiming that a toll would impede interstate commerce.
Bob Bruhns December 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Whatever payment plan is made, the underlying cost of the Dulles Rail / Silver Line project is about two times what it should be - and then we will have to pay big finance charges on the Billions we need to borrow, in order to pay those multi-Billion dollar double prices. I submit that we might just possibly want to get the price down to earth... When are people going to wise up? People should do a web search on ' The excessive pricing of the Dulles Rail - Silver Line Metrorail project ' and read about the double prices. If double prices still seem impossible, people should do a web search on ' MWAA's Weak Policies and Procedures Have Led to Questionable Procurement Practices, Mismanagement, and a Lack of Overall Accountability ' - believe it or not, that is the title of the US DOT Inspector General's report on MWAA management and governance! Read about how MWAA was happily funneling contracts to a contractor who was charging 1.3 to 3.3 times as much as other contractors charged for the same work. That's not a typo - 1.3 to 3.3 times as much as other contractors charged for the same work! It's on page 14 of the article (page 15 of the pdf).
Daniel Davies January 11, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road have reduced the number of cars taking the Greenway- this was outside of the Greenway's control. Loudoun's commercial office development has also been very slow to build out, leading to lower than expected traffic to planned commercial areas along the Greenway.

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