By: Ron Meyer
In an unanimous opinion handed down on September 8th, the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed the State Corporate Commission’s (SCC’s) decision to sustain an increase in the Dulles Greenway tolls. This unfortunate decision should be another call to action for our local elected officials to move as quickly as possible to build local alternatives to the Greenway.
Buying the Greenway at a reasonable price using Commonwealth revenue bonds is worth exploring, but the Greenway currently holds more than $1 billion in debt. The road’s value is well below $1 billion. Our best option is to fund local alternative routes to the Greenway so commuters no longer have to pay $6.20 each way, every day — or be stuck endlessly on Waxpool Road.
That’s why I ran on this theme last year, and that’s why this year in the County Budget, our Board endorsed our efforts to build Greenway alternatives. Shellhorn Road extended to Sterling Blvd. at Route 28 has been added to our County’s Capital Improvement Program, and now, our County staff and our office is already working on land acquisition and finalizing the alignment.
This road, along with others like extending West Wind Drive to Route 606, will provide a local toll-free bypass to the Greenway. The Route 28 District Commission, on which I serve as vice-chair, has approved and funded the widening of Route 28 in both directions. Continuing to eliminate traffic signals on Route 7 will also help. More east-west roads will save commuters money, but will also make Loudoun more business-friendly. Who wants to pay $6 tolls to travel into Loudoun to do business? We need businesses to locate along the Metro corridor, and these roads will allow workers to drive here without a massive added expense.
These projects must be our County’s top transportation priority and together with the House of Delegates, State Senate, and the Governor, we should be doing everything in our power to help fund these projects as fast as possible.
Our focus should be on funding sources provided by VDOT, the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority (NVTA), and available proffer funds. Our County, thanks to our NTVA members from Loudoun led by Delegate Randy Minchew, has been the largest per capital recipient of NVTA road improvement financing in the region. Congresswoman Barbara Comstock also did her part by leading the efforts to pass a federal transportation bill to give Virginia more access to road funding.
Our delegation has been successful at attracting funding for Loudoun projects, but it’s time to complete the paradigm shift and help these officials continue this success by getting more Greenway alternatives funded in the years ahead.
Ron Meyer is a Republican who represents the Broad Run District on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.