Loudoun County residents are telling Virginia's utility watchdog that tolls on the Dulles Greenway are too high and are pushing drivers to other clogged roads.
The Virginia State Corporation Commission, which regulates state utilities and the privately owned 14-mile Greenway, is holding public meetings in Loudoun to determine whether the tolls, which can reach $5.90 for a trip down the length of the road during rush hour, are discouraging drivers from using the road -- a violation of state law.
Local officials and residents want those tolls to be much lower, though opinion on how low varies.
Janet Clarke, a Loudoun County supervisor, told the agency at its first public hearing this week in Purcellville that her family canceled its E-ZPass accounts because the Greenway tolls were too high.
"We just can't afford it," Clarke told The Washington Examiner. "[The tolls] have chased people off of the Greenway. It's almost inconceivable to think of the rates being raised anymore."
State Del. David Ramadan, R-South Riding, who filed the complaint that triggered the state agency's investigation, said he has more than 2,000 signatures on a petition calling for lower tolls.
"I think we'll get more and more as the word spreads," he said. "Everybody's in agreement that this is way overdue."
The corporation commission will hold two more hearings -- June 6 in Sterling and July 18 in Richmond -- before deciding on Ramadan's complaint. The lawmaker says he's hoping the watchdog group will force the owners of the Greenway, the Macquarie Group, to drop the toll for driving the full length of the roadway by at least $1, and the tolls for shorter trips by $2.
"It would still be overpriced at that point," he said.
The investigation comes after a failed attempt in the Virginia General Assembly to seek lower tolls by buying the privately owned road. Two bills that would have allowed the commonwealth to do that were left to die in a committee. But Del. Joe May, R-Leesburg, said there is a provision in next year's state budget that would allow state officials to continue studying buying the road.
The Macquarie Group declined through a spokeswoman to comment.