Loudoun County continues to oppose toll rate increases that have once again been proposed by the operators of the Dulles Greenway. Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II) has filed an application this week (Case # PUR-2023-00089) with the State Corporation Commission (SCC), which is the entity that considers such requests.
TRIP II has requested a toll increase of 22% for off-peak hours and a 40% increase during peak morning and afternoon hours, which the corporation claims is necessary to meet its debt obligation. Data show, however, that use of the Greenway is down because of its already high toll rate. Traffic on the Greenway decreased substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not returned to pre-COVID levels.
To promote use of the Greenway by more motorists, Loudoun County has consistently supported changing the Greenway’s toll structure to distance-based tolling while also lowering toll rates. The Greenway operator has the ability to implement both changes now.
Virginia law enacted in 2021 provides objective criteria for evaluating toll increase proposals, including a requirement that proposed Greenway toll rates are “reasonable” to users in relation to the benefit they are deriving from using the road so that the rates do not “materially discourage” use of the road. Loudoun County believes TRIP II’s proposed rates will further discourage the use of the Greenway. The SCC uses the objective criteria to evaluate toll rate increase proposals and Loudoun County supports the SCC review process.
In addition, Loudoun County has opposed any legislation that would potentially permit automatic toll rate increases each year of an unknown amount and an extension of the Greenway’s operator’s license for an unlimited period of time, which is not good for Loudoun residents. The county’s opposition to automatic toll rate increase legislation and continued support of the SCC review process is intended to protect Loudoun residents who may choose to use the Greenway from arbitrary toll rate increases. Automatic toll rate increase legislation was previously defeated by the Virginia State Senate twice on bipartisan votes.
The SCC is currently considering the TRIP II application. In the coming weeks, members of the public will have an opportunity to submit comments to the SCC for consideration prior to issuing its determination.
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