Va. ruling forbids rush hour toll increase on Dulles Greenway; 25-cent off-peak increase OK’d

Commuters on the Dulles Greenway will now pay an extra 25-cents — $5 — during nonpeak hours on the 14-mile private toll road from Leesburg to near Dulles International Airport after a ruling by Virginia’s State Corporation Commission.

However, the ruling by the state regulatory agency said peak tolls, which are currently $5.80, cannot be raised now, citing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SCC was considering a proposal from Toll Road Investors Partnership II, the operator of the Dulles Greenway, that sought yearly increases over five years that would result in two-axle vehicles paying $7.90 during peak periods and $6.15 off-peak in 2025.

While the regulatory panel said the toll road owners had met the criteria for toll increases during both peak and nonpeak hours: “The Commission finds that peak tolls should not be increased at this time due to the changes and uncertainty brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The ruling also approved raising the nonpeak toll to $5.25, beginning Jan. 1, 2022, but short-circuited the proposed increases sought for three more years.

“While the Greenway satisfied the SCC’s criteria for toll increases, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the local economy was clearly a factor in the approval of a shorter-term two-year increase in off-peak tolls,” said Renee Hamilton, TRIP II CEO, in a statement.

State lawmakers representing Loudoun County applauded the ruling, especially in conjunction with a recently-signed law which will require toll road operators to more clearly specify why future proposed toll increases are justified.

“Toll increases on the Greenway have gone unchecked for too long, but it stops today,” said Sen. John Bell, D-Loudoun, who introduced the bill.

“We fought successfully to change this moving forward by preventing multiyear toll increases and making it harder to justify any increases,” said Del. Suhas Subramanyam, D-Loudoun, who authored the House bill.

The new law requires TRIP II to propose each increase individually, rather than lumping them in a plan that spans several years.

In its application, the Greenway said the toll increases would allow the company to make capital improvements to the roadway and the ways it connects with adjoining public roads.

Hamilton said the ruling “reinforces the importance of the Dulles Greenway and the value it delivers to Loudoun County and Northern Virginia customers who rely on the roadway for a faster, safer and more predictable transportation option.”

 

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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