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WTOP: Virginia Might Buy Greenway

Del. May says negotiations underway for road with high tolls, long called 'highway robbery' by some.

WTOP is reporting Virginia is in negotiations to buy the Dulles Greenway from current owner Toll Road Investors Partnership, a subsidiary of Australia-based Macquarie Group.

The news outlet reported Del. Joe T. May (R-33), who represents western Loudoun, confirmed such negotiations were underway.

Let us know what you think in the comments below. Should the state buy the Greenway?

TRIP was originally designed as a privately operated toll road by a local family, but the family sold it after it failed to turn a profit. State law was created to permit a 50-year concession of the road, after which it would revert back to the state. The law, however, permits the operator to make a profit, which has resulted in main gate tolls near $5 at rush hour.

Congressman Frank R. Wolf (R-10) has long called the arrangement "highway robbery" and has urged the state to change the law. Attempts to persuade TRIP II to institute distance pricing have been unsuccessful because the owners believe it could result in financial losses.

The tolls are likely to come under greater focus as the state increases tolls for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority-operated Dulles Toll Road to pay for Metro's Silver Line project.

Linda Borakove January 16, 2013 at 06:26 PM
I would love for Virginia to purchase the Greenway, but I want them to make the tolls less expensive.....I live in Leesburg and work in Herndon, and the greenway is way too expensive for me to even consider using....which is a shame because i live and work so close to the Greenway. I have friends that would like to use the Greenway too and cannot because of the cost....we have seriously considered pickiting and holding a rallies against the high Greenway costs. Linda from Leesburg
Linda Borakove January 16, 2013 at 06:31 PM
I would love for Virginia to purchase the Greenway, but I want them to make the tolls less expensive.....I live in Leesburg and work in Herndon, and the Greenway is way too expensive for me to even consider using....which is a shame because i live and work so close to the Greenway. I am a teacher and my salary is going down, while everything else, including the Greenway, is going up. I have friends that would like to use the Greenway too and do not because of the high cost....we have seriously considered pickiting and holding rallies or demonstrations against the high Greenway costs. Linda from Leesburg
joe brewer January 16, 2013 at 06:39 PM
If the cost from the owners is too much use eminent domain on both toll roads.
No Toll Increase January 16, 2013 at 08:06 PM
May's bill is a disaster waiting to happen. The Dulles Greenway is privately owned, and toll increases are limited by the authorizing legislation. If the Commonwealth takes the Greenway over, they can raise the tolls as much as they want. May is desperate for more Transportation funding, and this is one way to get it. Almost a guarantee that tolls will go up if this goes through. He himself admits that a takeover will NOT result in lower tolls on the Greenway. With Dulles Toll Road tolls continuing to skyrocket to pay for the rail project, less people will use the Greenway. Traffic on the Greenway peaked in 2005, when Dulles Rail toll increases on the DTR started, and has declined ever since. Route 7 will also see the lights at Sycolin, Belmont Ridge, and Ashburn Village Blvd. eliminated soon, making that option from Leesburg to Rt. 28 even better. Del. May is offering this effort as a distraction from the increasing tolls on the Dulles Toll Road. He won't touch that issue since developers and his financial backers don't want him to disrupt the "delicate financial balance" of the Dulles Rail project.
No Toll Increase January 16, 2013 at 08:10 PM
Here's a good article about this proposal: http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/6354
DBaker January 16, 2013 at 09:15 PM
Yes, Virginia should purchase the Greenway. There is no sustainable logic to making one road a toll road and another one not. Why not sell Route 7 to some investors from Peru or Route 66 to an investor group in Bulgaria? If we have to have toll roads, keep the money local and in the State budget for road repairs, snow removal and other related transportation costs, like building a metro. Wouldn't it make more sense for the profits from the Greenway to be funding the Silver Line instead of making some investment group in another country rich? Roads, like schools and hospitals are government responsibilities and should not be privatized. And, while some parts of the government would most certainly benefit by being run more like a business, the government is NOT a business -- it is a government. When the two get confused, you get what we are getting with the Greenway -- frequent and significant toll increases with no recourse. Virginia should buy the Greenway, bring the rates into alignment with the rest of the region and direct some of the proceeds to fund the Silver line so as to keep future transportation increases down.
Douglas Skinner January 16, 2013 at 11:38 PM
I agree to the commonwealth purchasing the road, as long as 1. the tolls are either very low, like $1 or free. 2. The tolls if collected go back into this road and other Northern Virginia roads. I am sure Del. May will do his best for us. I work in Herndon, live in the Leesburg area and will not use the toll road any more with the costs of the tolls. I cant afford it. I us Rt 7, which takes longer and is a free road, sometimes sit in a traffic parking lot, but i will not pay another cent to a out of country business, especially since they think we have to use that road excullsively so they can and will charge higher rates every year to make a profit. The other issue is the fact that the other side of the toll road goes into the road owned by the MWAA which wants us to pay even more $$ for their rail system. Some information for them, we don't have to use the road, but some feel its convenient, I feel it's "Highway Robbery". God Bless us all, we don't need more costs or taxation. My, oh my, I might have given Obama an idea with this rant, so he might make an executive decision and make all roads in the nation a toll, that will be next - toll all the roads or maybe charge a tax on every mile we drive. Take constitutional rights away and make this country a mess. So maybe Virginia will do as usual and step up and do what is right, just make sure not to pay to much now, don't let Obama and the foreigners have it so they can make more money on us.
Roger Marcum January 17, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Won't make a lot of difference who owns it if the tolls aren't lowered or eliminated. If the tolls are eliminated, all the traffic that now uses Loudoun County parkway to Waxpool would be able to travel to and from their destination via the toll road, thereby eliminating the need for any other road improvements to ease the congestion which, in turn, would save both the state and taxpayers money.
Bob Bruhns January 17, 2013 at 05:42 AM
Notice how our government is going right around the voters, and setting up transportation taxes anyway. In the Dulles Toll Road instance, they set up a ticking time bomb rail line, and approved unaffordable, double priced construction; in the Greenway case, they will probably pay so much for the Greenway that the costs will be even worse than they are now. Taxpayers will be tapped for it, of course, and yet the tolls will still be absurd. Since all political parties are playing pretty much the same game, voting for a different party won't help. Something else has to happen. It would help if people would put aside partisan positionality, and look at how this doesn't work, and how it is hurting us all. It would also help if people would actually learn from this. I don't expect either, though.
JP January 17, 2013 at 11:38 AM
Would be fantastic!! Spend the money to buy the road , reduce the tolls, get more people on it and off smaller roads and save millions on road expansions in Loudoun. Makes total sense!!
Brian Virgo January 17, 2013 at 03:17 PM
You either pay the increased tax (for the purchase) or pay to ride. If this is the case, why is the state charging for the "Hot Lanes" on 495? If those aren't free, neither would the Greenway. The other issue is that the left lane would be some HOV and "hybrid" deal which is a sham. An argument could be made either way, but it comes down to the road already being packed during rush hour. The main arteries (7) wont go up to 8 lanes, so that is a non-starter. Spend the money on the metro to Loudoun.
Jed January 17, 2013 at 03:50 PM
At the current almost $6 a pop each way how much higher could it get without driving many to some other way in and out. I would like to see it go to VA. Famous last words "How could it get worse"?
Eliana January 17, 2013 at 04:04 PM
There are no guarantees the state will lower or maintain current rates. Meanwhile, all Virginia taxpayers will bear the brunt of the purchase price as well as maintenance and improvements, whether they use it or not.
Annette Campbell Hartung January 17, 2013 at 10:21 PM
When are the traffic lights on Rt 7 going away?? That is good news if it is true.
Donnmaria Tucker Killinger January 18, 2013 at 03:35 AM
The 1st time I used the Greenest was also the last time I used it for the short distance I drove on it and now use Rt. 7 and sit in traffic occasionally but I don't feel I'm being robbed. Why didn't VA step up and purchase it from the local family instead of allowing it to be purchased by the Australian Company? Why give them ownership for 50 years before it reverts to state ownership? Did the Australian Company line a few pockets for the sale to go through? Now VA is in negotiations to purchase the Greenway and there is no quarantee VA will be the the successful bidder or if the State is, the tolls will be lowered. More likely, the taxpayers will pay for the purchase with increased taxes and see the toll increased to pay for maintenance, etc. Why not consider making all the roads Toll Roads and requiring everyone to purchase an EZ-PASS? Everyone who uses the pass pays a discounted toll; others, without pay a higher toll. Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission raises its toll prices this month. Vehicles without an EZ-PASS had a 5% increase; those vehicles with the EZ-PASS only had a 2% increase. The commission's plans to eliminate all of their toll booth collectors and replace them with automated toll booths within the next few years. The EZ-PASS allows drivers to avoid lines and is recognized and accepted in many of the neighboring States. ZE
S - Herndon January 18, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Linda, I live in Herndon and sympathize with your plight. We are forced to use the Dulles Toll Road which is beginning to rival the cost of the greenway. It is a huge burden. When we were originally house hunting, Leesburg was never an option because between the Greenway and the toll road the cost was entirely too prohibitive. The toll road is one of my biggest expenses after mortgage and daycare. With the toll road the only way in and out of the Reston/Herndon area we feel as though we are being held hostage. The onslaught of toll roads needs to stop. The public cannot afford taxes and tolls. It really hurts my family and other families. Stephanie from Herndon
S - Herndon January 18, 2013 at 02:21 PM
Let's picket the Greenway and the Dulles Toll Road. Let's end the ridiculous cost of driving to work.
Daniel Davies January 18, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Rt. 7 will get interchanges at Sycolin, Belmont Ridge, Lexington Dr. and Ashburn Village Blvd. in the next 1-3 yrs, making that option from Leesburg to Rt. 28 even better. Only remaining lights between Rt. 28 and Berryville will be Battlefield Pkwy and Cardinal Dr. The improvements are currently scheduled for Sycolin (2013) http://www.virginiadot.org/projects/northernvirginia/sycolin_road_overpass.asp Belmont Ridge (FY2015) http://syip.virginiadot.org/Pages/lineitemDetails.aspx?syp_scenario_id=193&line_item_id=1059460 Lexington Dr. (FY2016) http://syip.virginiadot.org/Pages/lineitemDetails.aspx?syp_scenario_id=193&line_item_id=1059294 Ashburn Village Blvd. ???? http://loudoun.gov/DocumentCenter/View/81213 2005- the year Greenway traffic peaked (according to his article linked below)- was the year the CTB started increasing DTR tolls to fund the Rail Project. Greenway traffic has been in a free-fall since. Coincidence? I think not. People don't want their tolls paying for the train they won't/can't use.
Marcus Aurelius January 19, 2013 at 04:41 AM
Buy it and make it toll free!
Bob Bruhns January 19, 2013 at 05:55 AM
Sounds like a great way to extract money from people. Start a private toll road, screw it ALL up, go broke, sell it to somebody else, and then dump it on taxpayers. Heck, voters wouldn't even be able to argue against the cost until it was too late! What could be better for our elected 'representatives'? No responsibility! "OH, well WE had no reason to intrude, until the new owners decided to make the tolls way too high! Of course we HAD to pay whatever they charged us, you have to underSTAND!" Hmmm, betcha they'll do it everywhere now.
joe brewer January 19, 2013 at 01:16 PM
Buy it and lower the tolls to cover the cost of the Greenway only. Don't put a additional burden on the taxpayer for a road that is already set up to collect tolls for it's upkeep. Who better to pay for a express road then the users. It should be a non-profit and the tolls should only be as high as the costs to maintain the road. No pork bought with money from the tolls.

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