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Posted at 7:06 PM ET, 06/15/2010

The true cost of driving the Dulles Greenway

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Bruce Hill
Ashburn

The June 12 Metro article “Md. set tolls for 1st part of ICC” continued a misrepresentation of the true cost to many drivers of the tolls on the Dulles Greenway. The article described Maryland’s proposed charge of 25 cents per mile for intercounty connector users and included the comparison “drivers on the Dulles Greenway pay 34 cents a mile during rush hour.” But this fee applies only for drivers going the full length of the road. Many of us pay far more than 34 cents per mile.

The Greenway has a fixed-toll structure, charging all users going east on the Greenway through the main toll plaza a $4 toll at rush hour. In my case, as is the case for the majority of Greenway users, trips are generally far shorter than the maximum. As an Ashburn resident, I get on and off the Greenway at the Loudoun County Parkway, about two miles west of the main toll plaza, and I pay $4 each direction, making my effective toll about $2 per mile. To my knowledge, this per-mile cost is one of the highest in the nation.

My annual Greenway expenses are about $2,000, and my use of the Dulles Toll Road ($2 for a one-way trip, and also rising) adds another $1,000. Because of the lack of viable alternatives for travel around Dulles International Airport, residents in this part of Loudoun County are essentially held hostage to these rates.

Though Virginia has Greenway toll-rate approval authority, the state has shown little inclination to curb any owner-proposed increases. Tolls are already slated to rise further in the next few years. Incomplete reporting of the true cost to many drivers using the Greenway helps to perpetuate this situation.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | June 15, 2010; 7:06 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Virginia, traffic, transportation  
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Comments

but that's the State's way of being able to tell you that "they didn't raise taxes." So instead of paying a couple hundred more a year in higher income or property taxes, you have to pay $3000 a year.

The funny thing is that most people buy that Horsesh}T. Just wait until the State decides to charge you electronically every time you start your car for the "privilege" of driving on its pristine and well-kept roads.

Posted by: Please_Fix_VAs_Roads | June 16, 2010 8:33 AM | Report abuse

It's not just the fact that the government or politicians didn't raise taxes, they didn't even build it!
Fairfax County sold bonds to finance the Dulles Toll Road. The Dulles Greenway was built by a private concern using its own capital, requiring a higher rate of return than would a governmental agency - the holders of their bonds need to be paid at a higher interest rate than the tax-free Dulles tollroad bonds.
In addition, consider that the tolls charged in Fairfax vary based on the distance traveled, while to save money on the construction, or to ensure they made more money, that opportunity doesn't exist on the Greenway.
Once more the fault can be traced to the local government's inability or unwillingness to finance the building of its own transportation infrastructure, a responsibility that in the past I thought was the government's.

Posted by: jmparnes | June 17, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

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