Official: 316 toll project could rise again

LAWRENCEVILLE - A proposal that would use tolls to fund Ga. Highway 316 improvements will probably resurface, a state transportation leader said Tuesday.

The public-private project was shelved several months ago after the public complained about it and state legislators ruled that existing lanes cannot be tolled.

"I don't think 316 is off the map yet," said state Transportation Board Chairman David Doss. "I think in the not-too-distant future you'll see a revamped 316 proposal come forward."

Doss made the comments during a transportation forum at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Afterward, Doss said he has not spoken directly to members of The Parkway Group - a private consortium of road builders that asked the state to let it turn Ga. 316 into a limited-access toll road with ramps and overpasses.

The tolls revenue would have paid off loans The Parkway Group would have taken out to finance the work.

DOT officials said the public-private initiative would have shaved about 20 years off the time it would take to improve the entire 39-mile stretch of Ga. 316 between Lawrenceville and Athens if the state did it.

It would take the state longer to do the work because it does not have funds to meet the state's transportation needs.

The state adopted a policy saying only new travel lanes can be tolled after the public complained about the possibility of paying to use existing lanes.