A State Corporation Commission hearing examiner has sided partially with Loudoun County leaders in agreeing to delay proceedings for the Dulles Greenway’s request for five years of toll rate increases.
Loudoun County government asked the SCC to delay an April 24 deadline to file its arguments opposing further toll increases on the Greenway, citing the need for senior county staff members to address the viral outbreak and state of emergency. The SCC oversees tolls on the Greenway.
“There is no need to suspend this proceeding simply because resources may need to be allocated differently than initially envisioned or practiced in the past,” the Greenway’s lawyers wrote, arguing the county also has outside counsel and could hire traffic experts to argue on its behalf.
SCC Hearing Examiner D. Mathias Roussy Jr. sided in part with the county, delaying deadlines—although not as far as the county requested—but also canceling scheduled local public hearings.
The county had asked to extend the deadline for filing arguments be extended to Oct. 2; Roussy moved that deadline back to June 26. County Attorney Leo Rogers worried that may not be enough, especially the county plans to file traffic counts. With traffic across the region dropping off as businesses are closed and people stay home to practice social distancing, it won’t be easy to get accurate data.
“If the Greenway usage is down, then our traffic studies are not going to be reflective of normal traffic,” Rogers said.
He also said he would ask the SCC to reschedule public hearings. He said local public input would be “critical.”
“There’s so many things that I’m finding are happening not just in Virginia, but around the country, where public hearings can be held through these virtual meetings where people can express their views,” Rogers said. “In some ways, it could even be more open. You could do it from the privacy of your own home, as opposed to coming out to a hearing and being physically present.”
The Greenway is asking the state to be granted annual toll increase for the next five years, ranging from a 5 percent increase on off-peak traffic for 2022 to a 6.8 percent increase on peak hour traffic in 2025. If approved, tolls would stand at $6.15 per one-way trip in off-peak hours, and $7.90 in peak hours by 2025. A commuter traveling twice a day on the Greenway during rush hour, five days a week, 52 weeks a year would pay $4,108 in tolls annually.
Today, tolls on the Greenway are $4.75 and $5.80. The Dulles Toll Road, which is connected to the Greenway’s eastern toll plaza and owned by Dulles Airport, costs up to an additional $4.75 to proceed to the I-495/I-66 interchanges.
A Dulles Greenway spokesman relayed the request for comment the highway’s ownership, Australian company Atlas Arteria.