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Greenway Distance Pricing Remains Long Shot

Chairman York offers an alternative proposed to studying toll changes: ‘condemn it.’

As the Loudoun Board of Supervisors ponders whether to press state legislators to continue to fight for a study of distance pricing on the Dulles Greenway, the proposal seems to be going nowhere fast.

— which would mean users would not have to pay the full toll regardless of their entry and exit points as is currently the case.

Tom Sines, a Dulles Greenway representative, said it’s a risky endeavor for Greenway owners Macquarie Group. The equipment alone would cost $6.5 million, Sines said last year, and if the higher revenues are not generated Macquarie could stand to lose money on an asset intended to provide a profit.

On Wednesday, County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large) estimated it would cost $5 million to equip the Greenway for distance pricing.

Supervisor Shawn Williams (R-Broad Run) said those concerns remain.

“It’s hard to get traction because at the end of the day they don’t believe a distance pricing mechanism benefits their shareholders,” he said.

Macquarie bought TRIP II in 2005 and 2006, and state legislation entitles the company to generate a profit from the road while maintaining it. State legislation authorized Macquarie to control the road for 50 years, about 20 of which have passed.

Supporters of distance pricing estimate that a large number of drivers who now avoid the Greenway because of the high tolls would use it if the tolls were lower for shorter distances traveled. Currently, users pay one toll, even if only traveling from one exist to the next.

Supervisor Ken Reid (R-Leesburg) wondered if the county could fund its own study to show Macquarie potential benefits.

“When I talk to Tom Sines and others at the Greenway, they don’t think it’s feasible,” Reid said.

Supervisor Janet Clarke said she supported the idea of finding a way to pay for the study. York said he was hesitant to spend money on a study if the county was not prepared to pay for the equipment and software needed, too. Instead, he said he preferred other options.

“I don’t know if I would support us funding this study,” York said. “The best thing the commonwealth can do is just condemn it for the public good and reduce the tolls.”

Mark Carolla September 08, 2012 at 05:24 PM
Chairman York might have the right idea: "condemn it and take it over." I would suggest that the lesson learned here is that when you out-source a road to a profit-making entity the public pays for it - big time...perhaps a lot more than it would through taxpayer subsidies or tolls on a public-built or maintained project. In the industrialized world NO form of passenger transportation, rail, airline (airport infrastructure, air traffic control, FAA inspections, navigational aids, GPS and radar, etc.), or highway can operate at a profit, or indeed operate at all without government subsidies of some sort. As for the statement “It’s hard to get traction because at the end of the day they don’t believe a distance pricing mechanism benefits their shareholders” is a fall back to the Gilded Age when the "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt told a reporter “The public be damned!” when he inquired of the Commodore about the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad's responsibility.to the public. Macquarie is a corporation and views its prime or only responsibility is to its share holders - the public be damned.
Marcus Aurelius September 09, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Wow! Me and da Chairman in agreement! Whoda believe it would happen?
Concerned_Citizen9 April 09, 2013 at 05:12 PM
Do not think for a minute the SCC will help. ~5 years ago I went through a number of email sessions and phone calls with SCC personnel regarding the fees on the Greenway. I was disturbed by how 'loosely' written the requirements were, which dictate what steps the Greenway owners must go through in order to increase their fees. The requirements are a joke. Take 10 minutes and contact the SCC and ask for a link to the documents, and see for yourself. Also included in those documents was SCC's recommendation that TRIP II 'review distance based pricing'. That is as far though as it ever went. No body forced TRIP II to do so, nor even followed up with them to see if they did. The folks in Richmond care not for our issues here in Loudoun. After a number of communications, with me observing that the Greenway was under constant 'repair' (resurfacing of already perfectly smooth sections of roads), and constant building of on-ramps (which originally there were to be none), and my submission that the reason TRIP II was able to 'show a loss' every year, was because they were doing so purposefully, in order to increase their fees. Eventually all construction would be done, and by then they would be charging a small fortune. The odds of the fees being reduced, as TRIP II knew, would be minimal. SCC admitted that I may be correct, and that they didn't have the manpower to investigate, and that Loudoun shld hire their own attorney.....

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