Judge rejects challenge to transfer of Dulles Toll Road from VDOT to metro airports

October 17, 2008
By Peter Samuel

A Judge in Richmond VA has rejected claims that Virginia DOT doesn't have the power to transfer control of the Dulles Toll Road to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Transfer of the state toll road to MWAA - a US/DC/MD/VA joint powers agency that runs Dulles and Reagan National airports - is part of a scheme to use road tolls to cover expected losses on financing of a Metro rail extension located in the median of the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Greenway with diversions to Tysons Corner and Dulles Washington Airport.

Judge Margaret P Spencer, judge of the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond granted summary judgment to VDOT, other Virginia agencies and MWAA against Patrick R Gray and James W Nagle two Dulles Toll Road users and opponents of the Toll Road  transfer.

Judge Spencer issued a very short "Order" (see below) with little explanation for her ruling. She said the summary judgment was ordered for reasons stated by the state, and in a court letter. Then she said the Court holds that the MWAA "is a necessary and indispensable party, and this action should be dismissed."

Objection on constitutional grounds to the transfer to the majority non-Virginia airports authority was "without merit" the Judge said even though there has never been any legislative approval for what has been a purely executive act of the Governor and VDOT.

Tolls on the Dulles Toll Road "are neither taxes nor revenue" of the state of Virginia, the Judge asserted without explanation.

The Dulles Toll Road was built by the state of Virginia and has been operated by its department of transportation and the tolls have gone into state funds.

Here is Judge Spencer's order:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/sites/default/files/Order.pdf

COMMENT: the Judge's notion that the tolls are not state revenue is bizarre. Whose revenue are they then? The Judge doesn't say.

MWAA is obviously not an indispensable party to the financing because the state had a bunch of proposals worth billions of dollars from the private sector which were dumped mid-procurement when Governor Kaine decided on a non-competed transfer of the Dulles Toll Road to the metro area airports authority - an agency with no experience or competence in running a tollroad or a railroad, but a stellar record for political patronage and inside connections.

This Judge's terse counterintuitive comments makes one wonder about the quality of "justice" in Virginia.

TOLLROADSnews 2008-10-17

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