It is the dawn of a new year, and, for Loudouners, that means it’s time to renew their futile protests against plans to ratchet up toll rates on the Dulles Greenway.
It’s an annual exercise in frustration that is no closer to resolution today than a decade ago.
The dance is a familiar one. Members of the county’s General Assembly delegation join area residents in expressing outrage that the State Corporation Commission would even consider yet another toll increase. Then SCC leaders respond that their hands are tied because the General Assembly has ordered the annual toll hike be approved.
Over the years, the General Assembly has done a good job of noting the many community problems caused by high toll rates, but it has failed to address any of them. However, residents should clearly understand that no other body can solve them.
The financial impacts of high tolls and the lack of distance pricing on area families is fairly obvious. The community impact of commuters avoiding the freeway and clogging neighborhood streets each morning and afternoon has been frequently discussed. Even safety concerns about having construction traffic and large trucks bypassing the highway have been repeatedly cited.
Perhaps they are merely local concerns that don’t resonate with General Assembly members.
How about an issue that should? Economic impact.Click here for this editorial's look at the economic impact.
There is nothing in this editorial that hasn't also been said about the planned huge increases in the Dulles Toll Road tolls (now set for 2018 since the state coughed up $300 million to keep them down for a few years) to help cover the debt service payments for the Silver Line.
In the end, it will be the economic impact that drives the General Assembly to make a change, but--if history is any lesson--probably not until it is too late. And we're getting there rather quickly as the cutbacks in federal spending have meant low to no growth in the area already and, therefore, no/low growth in county and state tax revenues. Yet local and state governments want to spend more without raising or adding new taxes. It won't work.
Hold on to your seats, we're in for a bumpy economic ride.