Update: April 10, 2:48 p.m.

State Corporation Commission Hearing Examiner D. Mathias Roussy Jr. has granted Loudoun County a nine-week extension to respond to the Dulles Greenway's rate hike request.

Roussy cancelled the local public witness hearings due to restrictions with COVID-19, and he scheduled an oral public comment to be announced in the future.

Roussy said in his ruling, "Based on the foregoing, the Loudoun Board’s Extension Motion is granted in part and denied in part. I agree with the board that the COVID-19 emergency warrants changes to the current procedural schedule for this matter, including the upcoming date for submitting respondent testimony. In general, I find that an approximately nine-week extension is appropriate at this time."

Roussy directed the following actions in his ruling:

-The date for filing any respondent testimony and exhibits on the application is extended to June 26.

-Staff shall file its testimony and exhibits on the application on or before July 10.

-TRIP II shall file any rebuttal testimony on or before July 24.

-The evidentiary hearing is continued and shall commence in the commission’s courtroom on Aug. 13 10 a.m.

-The date by which any person or entity may file written comments on the application is extended to Aug. 24. Anyone may file comments on the application by following the instructions found on the commission’s website: scc.virginia.gov/case. All comments should refer to Case No. PUR-2019-00218.

-The local hearings previously scheduled in this matter are cancelled.

________ 

Original report: April 10, 8:30 a.m.

Loudoun County officials are asking the Virginia State Corporation Commission to extend the hearing date for a 6 to 6.8 percent rate hike request by the owners of the Dulles Greenway.

On Tuesday night during the Board of Supervisors business meeting, County Administrator Tim Hemstreet and County Attorney Leo Rogers shared that the request has been filed with SCC for an extension until Oct. 2 to file direct testimony in the case and also to reschedule the public hearings for later in the year.

The county is opposing the rate hike.

“It is insensitive of TRIP II to rush through this proceeding to raise tolls on the Greenway at a time when everyone’s financial future is uncertain due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) said in a prepared statement. “A toll rate increase of this magnitude would put a heavy economic burden on workers in Loudoun County, many of whom may not be getting a paycheck for the next few months.”

Toll Road Investors Partnership II, LP, or TRIP II, the Australia-based company that owns the Greenway, seeks a 6 to 6.8 percent toll rate increase each year over the next five years, which is an increase of approximately one-third in toll rates over that period, according to county officials. TRIP II has refused the county’s request to reschedule the current proceedings, which include an evidentiary hearing before the SCC in June.

The opportunities for public input are currently set for May while Gov. Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order is in effect. In addition, the county faces April deadlines to file substantive exhibits and testimony.

“The county simply does not have the time needed to prepare for the hearing,” Tim Hemstreet said in a prepared statement. “Every facet of the Loudoun County government has been focused 24/7 on mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the health and safety of our residents, businesses and county employees, while still providing essential and critical services to our community.”

Under the current SCC schedule, which was adopted before the COVID-19 crisis, the county had about a month from the time that it intervened to prepare its case for fighting the toll rate increase, officials stated. The county requested an extension because its resources have been redirected to the pandemic response.

TRIP II has requested the SCC “deny the county’s motion in its entirety.”

“The Greenway never fails to disappoint, but this may be a new low,” said Dulles Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R), who serves county finance committee chairman. “The last thing Loudoun residents need right now is another toll increase. The county will fight this rate case regardless of the schedule, but during this unprecedented time it is impossible to obtain accurate traffic counts and make this process fair."

Lawmakers and county officials have fought for years against the Greenway’s efforts to raise tolls.

The most recent case in February was squashed after a Virginia House committee killed a bill aimed at addressing toll price concerns on the Greenway. A substitute bill was reintroduced and subsequently pushed to next year’s session.

The requested toll increases are not mandated by any statute, regulation or prior commission order, nor is there any requirement that the commission rule on the application by a certain date, the county states.

A decision regarding the county's request could be made by the end of the week.

(20) comments

More Cowbell

LTM AWOL going after Dulles Toll rd, which was suppose to go away after paid for, about 15 years ago. But Tim Kaine, then Gov of VA gave it away to his buddies and now they raise the price to help pay for the failing metro.

amerigirl

Bob McDonnell did most of the footwork, Kaine signed it, it was bipartisan because Loudoun needed the funding. Check out the history.

Brian

The only way we'll affect the pricing is a concerted long-term (years) citizen boycott of the Greenway. If TRIP II is not getting any revenue, they'll see it as a losing investment and dump it. The new owner (public or private), should see the writing on the wall and keep the tolls reasonably low. We need bumper stickers to get the word out! TRIP II has no incentive to reduce tolls on their road unless demand tanks for an extended period. It's simple supply and demand...

Matthew

Here is an idea ... NO.

John M

I remember when the Greenway first opened and the toll was $1 and even at $2, it was still a pretty good deal because it was well maintained and there wasn't a lot of traffic on it. Now? Forget it. It's a complete rip-off and not worth using when there is too much traffic and too many Priuses in the left lane doing 5 mph under the speed limit.

More Cowbell

Ok for BOS to raise all Loudoun taxpayers tax but not ok to raise rates on a toll rd that only some Loudouners can afford to use. Please give back that $60K raise, you're not worth it.

LIfetimeLoudouner

So it’s immoral for the toll road to raise what they change but it would be immoral if the county did NOT raise our taxes. What a bunch of hypocrites. “Do as I say not as I do”

Time for this board to resign since they have no clue what is truly going on

btm11

Could you please publish more information about who the members of the SCC are, who appointed them, and how long does their appointment last?

jke

County government drops the ball, again, see a pattern Loudoun!

David Dickinson

The BOS opposes the Greenway raising prices, but has no problem raising everyone's property taxes in the County this week. What a bunch of hypocrites.

Virginia SGP

Thank Chair Randall for this. She opposed squashing the ability of the Greenway to jack up toll rates. This is all on her.

mopar19

So the supervisors are worried about the burden of increased tolls? That wasn’t the case when passing the budget. See you can avoid that burden by not using the road. But unfortunately you can’t avoid a increase in taxes. Way to go loudoun. Remember we’re the richest county in America and we need to outspend Fairfax and Arlington so we don’t lose the best and brightest. It’s only fitting to raise the tolls.

ace10

I suppose "everyone's financial future" WASN'T "uncertan due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic" last week when the Randall(D) voted to raise taxes on Loudoun property owners.

hardworkingamerican

Could the LTM give a history of this road and who envisioned it and who owns EZ Pass Administration, that would be VDOT, and that they receive money for every toll that is collected. Also please provide in these articles the WMAA's cost to maintain the road and also how the road is being used to extend the failed Metro system. It would be of big help to post the financials to demonstrate where the money is going. Also please provide the amount that is paid to EZ Pass and VDOT for each toll. As all hard working tax payers here know, VA is all about collecting and raising taxes to fund politicians private lives and getting re-elected. Raising tolls is never a good idea, neither is an article that doesn't have background facts about where the money is going. How about comparing this to the increase in tax assessments by Loudoun County to raise all of the taxes that homeowners are paying at this COVID time. How about delaying all taxes that are assessed by Loudoun and Virginia, like the federal government is doing for filing federal tax returns. How about commenting about the condition of the Greenway vs. the rest of VA roads which are poorly maintained at best. Could it be because there is more money paid to VDOT and others as opposed to the money that should go to maintain Virginia's roads, especially in the rural areas that are not so rural anymore with the population explosion. Giving sound bites in these articles is a disservice.

AreYouKidding

WMAA doesn't maintain the Dulles Greenway nor are they using it to extend the Metro system. You seem to have the Greenway confused with the Dulles Toll Road.

Just as with the WMAA owned Dulles Toll Road VDOT does not receive a percentage of the Greenway toll. By law tolls on state owned roads in Virginia can be used towards toll collection, debt servicing for the road the toll was collected on and maintenance of the road the toll was collected on. Road tolls are not a general fund revenue source for the state.

I suggest educating yourself on the issues you post about before doing so.

LIfetimeLoudouner

You are correct and wrong. They are different roads, but the Dulles toll road was first approved by the general assembly , it was to end all tolls when the road was paid for. Well the road has long been paid off so a few years back they decided to pay for metro using the tolls. Just another underhanded way for politicians to tax for their special pet projects. You will never see a toll or tax go away just like in 1913 the feds passed the first income tax - but only for the very rich to pay. Haha now everyone pays and taxes keep going up.

Although I don’t like the greenway fees it is a private company, built with private funds - Unlike the lying cheating politicians illegal use of the Dulles toll road tolls.

Bornhere

hardworkingamerican, you do realize this article is about the Greenway and not the Dulles Toll Road that you are referring to??? Two totally separate roads, the Greenway is privately owned and the Dulles Toll Road is under the control of MWAA. Nice rant too bad you wasted your effort on the wrong topic.

Qwertyuiop

Perhaps the county should respond with threatening to invoke eminent domain on this non-American company.

Oldbroad

Back when this was built wasn't the original plan that once the bill was paid it became a regular state maintained road with no tolls?! We keep bending over further and further on this beast! Everyone seems to be making a boatload of money except those who use it! No financial disclosures, tons of tax breaks to everyone involved, again, except to the users. How can any of this be legal or ethical (haha). Does Northam even know what state he's Gov of? Does he care....why should he...just put out your hand in Loudoun and Richmond and we'll fill it for you! Mo' money!!!!

Cbass

No, the Greenway is a private road that was built through private funding. It was never owned by the Virginia government and was never intended to transition to the commonwealth.

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