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Dulles Greenway

Dulles Greenway
(Updated November 2008)

Alliance Position:
Extension of the Dulles Toll Road from Route 28 to Leesburg was an early Alliance priority.



Background:
The Dulles Greenway is a six-lane, 13-mile, divided highway connecting Leesburg/U.S. Route 15 Bypass to the Dulles Toll Road at Route 28. The road is owned and operated by Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II), which is responsible for maintenance and toll collection until the road is handed over to the state at the end of their agreement in 2056.

The Greenway was constructed between 1993 and 1995 at a cost of $315 million. The project was undertaken in compliance with the Virginia Highway Corporation Act of 1988. Tolls are regulated and must be approved by the State Corporation Commission (SCC).

When the road opened in 1995, projected growth in Loudoun County had yet to materialize and ridership and revenues did not meet expectation. The corridor was refinanced in 1999. In 2005, Sydney Australia based international toll road company, Macquarie, purchased the majority share of TRIP II.  

The Greenway has only one revenue base: the collection of tolls. TRIP II bears 100% of the revenue risk. After 12 years of operation the toll road has yet to turn a profit. In other words, interest, operation and maintenance costs continue to exceed toll revenue.

The Greenway is the only privately financed toll road in the nation that pays local property taxes, accounting for over $2 million a year. The operators also pay the Virginia State Police to patrol the road.

The Greenway is not a private-public partnership (PPTA) and therefore does not benefit from the financial benefits and incentives, such as tax exempt financing, exemption from local property and other taxes, sovereign immunity, right of condemnation and federal, state or local financial support, all of which significantly affect operation costs.



Some Context:

The Greenway still might not exist if the private sector had not stepped in and construction had been left to the state.

In the late 1980s, the Toll Road Corporation of Virginia (TRCV) presented a proposal to privately fund and construct an extension of the existing Dulles Toll Road to Leesburg.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued a report in April 1990 which compared the cost of private versus public construction. The report concluded that “projected total cost of service to the public over the 40 year life of the project is $894.8 million for VDOT compared to $3.5 billion for TRCV.”

The disparity of cost was largely due to TRCV’s higher debt service as compared to debt issued by a government agency, projected dividend payments to shareholders in excess of $1.1 billion over the course of the project, and payment of income and property taxes in excess of $785 million by TRCV that are not required of VDOT. Further, the report indicated that VDOT could reasonably charge $1 per toll over the life of the project.

Despite the obvious benefit to the public, the Commonwealth lacked funds to build the project and in May 1990 VDOT announced it had to no plans to build the Greenway with public funds, leaving the TRCV proposal as the only option.

In 1990 Loudoun County’s population was 86,000; today it’s approaching 300,000.  Imagine if the 53,000 daily trips on the Greenway today were forced onto the already congested lanes of Routes 7 and 50.



Traffic Trends:
(click here)



State and Local Improvements Funded by the Greenway:

The Greenway partners have funded over $46,000,000 in state and local improvements as part of the Greenway project, including:

  • Route 722 (Ryan Road) realignment
  • Bridge expansions on Ryan Road and Rt. 607 (Loudoun County Parkway)
  • Bridge widening and interchange improvements on Rt. 625 (Waxpool Road), Rt. 606 (Ox Road), Rt. 653 (Shreve Road) and Rt. 654 (Battlefield Parkway).

In addition, the Greenway owners report investing over $62,000,000 into improving the corridor, including lane widening, ramp improvements and toll collection system. To keep toll plaza back-ups at a minimum, the Greenway utilizes electronic tolling systems, and pay additional fees to VDOT for every electronic toll collected.



State Corporation Commission Approved Tolling Schedule:

In September 2007, the SCC authorized a maximum toll increase of $1.00 over a 5 - year period, from $3.00 - $4.00. These increases are not mandatory and cannot exceed the approved base toll for the specific period. (Note: Actual posted toll at Main Toll Plaza includes $.50 toll for Dulles Toll Road.
                               
January 2009 ---$3.40
July       2010 ---$3.70
January 2012 ---$4.00

To read the SCC's 2007 opinion, click here.

Historic Toll Schedule: (click here)