As the Virginia State
Corporation Commission pursues an investigation of tolls being charged by
Dulles Greenway operators TRIP II, Virginia Attorney General candidate Sen.
Mark Obenshain (R-26) this week used the issue to take a shot at his opponent.
Obenshain held a conference call with U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-10) and Loudoun Supervisor Shawn Williams (Broad Run) in which he vowed to represent commuters and speak against rising toll rates, which are now almost $5 at rush hour, whenever hearings are held before the SCC.
TRIP II, a subsidiary of Australia-based Macquarie Group, operates the road under a concession authorized by state law. The law permits the operators of the road to profit from servicing it, an arrangement that has long been criticized. Del. David Ramadan (R-87) recently requested an investigation, which the SCC could not deny. In addition, the Loudoun Board of Supervisors was recently permitted to intervene in the investigation. In addition to that investigation, the SCC holds hearings prior to approved a series of toll increases.
The SCC has consistently permitted toll increases on the road, despite regular opposition from residents and elected representatives.
“With peak tolls on the Dulles Greenway rising to $4.90 and further hikes ahead, more and more Loudoun County commuters will find themselves priced out of the Greenway,” Obenshain said. “That traffic spills onto already congested alternative routes. Rate hikes have to be approved by the State Corporation Commission. If elected, I will ensure that the Office of the Attorney General represents the interests of commuters in rate hearings before the SCC, just like it does for consumers in utility rate cases.”
Obenshain said it should not be a partisan issue and criticized a bill proposed by Herring to limit toll hikes as far too little because rates could rise to $5.90 by 2020.
"What’s more, the bill didn’t cap increases, but left open the ability of the Greenway operators to petition for even higher toll increases than the annual increases his bill guaranteed,” Obenshain said. “Mark Herring has made no public pledge to represent those commuters in SCC hearings, despite the outcry from leaders and commuters in his own district.”