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.”