Virginia bill would add hurdle to toll hikes

| Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If a Virginia state lawmaker gets his way, it would be a little more difficult to implement toll increases on the Dulles Toll Road or the Dulles Greenway, which is privately owned.

Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road increased Jan. 1. It is the second straight year that toll rates have gone up. Another price boost is expected next year.

Since the first of the year, car drivers and truck drivers are forced to pay 25 cents more at the main toll plaza. Previously they paid $1 and $1.75, respectively. Toll rates on the on/off ramps remain at 75 cents.

Delegate Jim LeMunyon, R-Loudoun, has introduced a bill ? HB1539 ? that would require the Fairfax and the Loudoun County boards of supervisors to approve higher toll rates. The Loudoun board would be responsible for approving toll hikes on the Dulles Greenway.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority now approves toll rates and controls the toll road. Toll revenue helps pay for the Metrorail?s new Silver Line, which is estimated to have a price tag of about $6.6 billion.

LeMunyon said the intent of the bill is to help reduce congestion on other roadways, such as Interstate 66 and state Route 7, caused by commuters and other travelers trying to avoid paying higher tolls.

?HB1539 aims to bring more transparency to the financing of Metrorail to Dulles and ensure that elected officials are held accountable for transportation planning in Northern Virginia, especially since a toll is just a tax of different form,? LeMunyon said in a statement.

Funding for the Metrorail is also slated to come from the state, which would be responsible for charging tolls to collect their portion.

Officials with the MWAA complain that LeMunyon is trying to pass the blame for the higher tolls.

The bill is awaiting consideration in the House Transportation Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Virginia, click here.

Editor?s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.

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