Traffic congestion getting on and off the Dulles Greenway—especially at its ends in Leesburg and the Dulles Toll Road—has county supervisors looking for leverage.
The Loudoun board had previously asked the Virginia Department of Transportation who it held responsible for maintaining ramps on and off the Greenway. At Tuesday’s board meeting, representatives from VDOT answered: Toll Road Investors Partnership II, or TRIP II, the organization that owns and operates the Greenway.
A passage of the 422-page agreement between VDOT and TRIP II states that “TRIP shall identify and provide for appropriate enlargements and expansions to the DTRE, including its ramp system.”
It also specifies that TRIP II must maintain at least “Level of Service D” along most of its length, which VDOT defines as “High-density flow in which speed and freedom to maneuver are severely restricted and comfort and convenience have declined even though flow remains stable.” Below level of service D, according to VDOT, roads begin to see “unstable flow,” and at F, driver see “stop-and-go waves, poor travel times, low comfort and convenience, and increased accident exposure.”
In Leesburg, the Greenway is meant to maintain level of service C, which VDOT characterizes as “restricted flow that remains stable but with significant interactions with others in the traffic stream. The general level of comfort and convenience declines noticeably at this level.”
“I don’t think there can be any debate about whether we have level of service problems,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “I’ll personally attest to the southern side of the Greenway. I’m sure Supervisor [Geary M.] Higgins (R-Catoctin) or Supervisor [Tony R.] Buffington (R-Blue Ridge) will be happy to attest what the conditions of the Greenway are like as you head out to Rt. 7 and Rt. 15. Clearly there’s no way that could be an acceptable level of service.”
But the state law governing the Greenway, the Virginia Highway Corporation Act of 1998, says TRIP II will build expansions when “unsatisfied demand for use of the roadway makes it economically feasible to do so.”
TRIP II decides when that is.
“Oh, god,” Letourneau said. “Who wrote these agreements?”
Supervisor Ron A. Meyer Jr. (R-Broad Run) said, “in my mind, the Greenway is not such a great partner with the county.”
“If you’re paying six bucks to go three miles, two miles, on that road, you shouldn’t have to have backups on that road because of things that they aren’t living up to in their agreement,” Meyer said.
Representatives of the Greenway declined to comment for this story other than to say, “we’re working with [the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority], VDOT, and the county regarding these issues.” The airports authority took over the Dulles Tolls Road in 2006 as part of the project to extend Metrorail’s Silver Line into Loudoun.