The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) has opened its public comment opportunity and scheduled hearings on an application from the owners of the Dulles Greenway requesting to increase the maximum tolls for most drivers to $8.10 during peak hours, up from the current $5.80, and $6.40 during off-peak hours, up from $5.25, according to a release from Loudoun County government.
Members of the public may submit written comments through Jan. 24, 2024.
Written comments regarding the Greenway’s request for increased toll rates can be provided online through the SCC’s website at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments (click on “Submit Comments” next to case # PUR-2023-00089).
Written comments can also be submitted by U.S. mail to the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. All comments must refer to case number PUR-2023-00089.
Register for Oral Testimony
The SCC has also scheduled hearings regarding the Greenway’s request for increased toll rates. The public witness session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at 1300 East Main Street in Richmond. Public witnesses will testify by telephone.
Public witnesses who wish to provide oral testimony must pre-register by 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, in one of three ways:
• Complete a public witness form for case number PUR-2023-00089 on the SCC’s website at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting.
• Email a PDF version of the form to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov.
• Call the SCC at 804-371-9141 during normal business hours (8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and provide your name and a phone number where you can be reached during the hearing.
The SCC allots each witness five minutes to provide testimony.
A separate public evidentiary hearing will be held at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, to receive testimony and evidence from the company, any respondents and the SCC staff. Although testimony from members of the public will not be accepted on Jan. 31, 2024, the hearing will be open to the public.
Both hearings are scheduled to be webcast at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting.
Loudoun County has opposed toll rate increases requested by the operators of the Dulles Greenway, Toll Road Investors Partnership II (TRIP II), which filed its application for the authorization for an increase in the maximum level of tolls last month. The SCC is the entity that considers such requests.
TRIP II has requested a toll increase of 22% during off-peak hours (from $5.25 to $6.40) and a 40% increase during peak morning and afternoon hours (from $5.80 to $8.10). TRIP II claims the increases are necessary to meet its debt obligation; however, data shows 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 lawful 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. Legislation supported by TRIP II pertaining to this matter was previously defeated by the Virginia State Senate twice on bipartisan votes.