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Toll Road Lawsuit Filed

Two plaintiffs allege illegalities of transferring the Dulles Toll Road operations to Airport Authority.

Two Fairfax County residents filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of the City of Richmond regarding the transfer of operations of the Dulles Toll Road to the Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority. The suit, filed on Jan. 11, states that the transfer violates Virginia code.

McSweeney, Crump, Childress & Gould, P.C. filed the suit on behalf of James Nagle of Reston and Patrick Gray of Springfield, both Dulles Toll Road users. The five defendants are the Virginia Secretary of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Virginia Commissioner of Transportation, the Virginia Department of Transportation and the airport authority. The suit is challenging the legality of an agreed transfer — agreed on Dec. 29, 2006 — of the Toll Road operations to the airport authority from state entities without the authorization of both houses of the General Assembly. "[The four state defendants] lack authority to convey or transfer valuable Dulles Toll Road assets of the Commonwealth to MWAA in the absence of authorization from the Virginia General Assembly," reads the lawsuit. A part of the state highway system, the Dulles Toll Road is committed to the supervision of the Commissioner of Transportation, and is exclusively maintained by the Commonwealth, states the suit.

Furthermore, the plaintiffs challenge the transfer agreement because MWAA would have the authority to raise tolls as it sees fit. It would also use a large majority of the revenue to fund a portion of building the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project. The suit alleges that the tolls MWAA intends to impose upon the users of the Toll Road constitute a tax, since they would not be used to cover expenses associated with the Toll Road. "The Commonwealth Defendants lack the authority to contract away, transfer, delegate or assign to MWAA the taxing power of the Commonwealth," reads the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs requested that the Court enter an order declaring that the agreement between VDOT and MWAA is illegal and that the state defendants lack authority to transfer Dulles Toll Road assets and operations to MWAA. They requested an order declaring that the state defendants are in violation of the Constitution of Virginia, "and exceed their authority under the Constitution and laws of the Commonwealth by contracting away, transferring, delegating or assigning to the MWAA the power to impose a tax." The lawsuit also asks the Court to stop any action to implement a transfer of the Dulles Toll Road assets until the General Assembly authorizes it.