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Lawmakers Lay Groundwork For Acquiring Dulles Greenway

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Lawmakers are weighing the acquisition of the Dulles Greenway to curb toll hikes.
VaDOT: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vadot/6886872261/
Lawmakers are weighing the acquisition of the Dulles Greenway to curb toll hikes.

Legislation to allow the state of Virginia to acquire the unpopular Dulles Greenway and its high tolls is making its way through Richmond. A bill could go before the full House of Delegates later this week after a subcommittee passed it this morning.

The latest 10-cent increase brings the toll on the 14-mile Dulles Greenway to $4.90 during peak drive times.  And that is simply way too much, says Loudoun County Supervisor Shawn Williams, whose constituents tell him the reason they don't use the Greenway is the toll is too high.

"Think about getting on it and going two miles and then having to pay $5," says Williams. "That's the highest toll in the country."

Williams supports legislation proposed by House Delegate Joe May that would create the legal framework for the Commonwealth to enter into an agreement with the private entity that operates the Greenway, the Australian firm Macquarie Infrastructure, which paid more than $530 million to take over the facility. May says the state's AAA credit rating makes a deal possible.

"Not as much to bring the tolls down as to keep them from skyrocketing because there's been a steady increase in the tolls," May says.

Virginia Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton has said it would be difficult for the Commonwealth to take over the toll road because of its large debt, a situation that grows worse as more drivers avoid the Greenway because of those increasing tolls.

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