OUR VIEW: Solution is needed for traffic woes

The U.S. Department of Transportation cooled on the idea of HOT lanes on Interstate 85, choosing not to fund a proposal by the state to convert more than 28 miles of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.

Five cities were awarded grants, but Georgia didn't make the cut. Gwinnett transportation director Brian Allen could only speculate as to why.

"Maybe it wasn't big enough; maybe it wasn't grand enough," Allen said. "It's just one way of dealing with the congestion issue. No one ever said it was going to solve the problem by itself."

Though the proposal wouldn't have solved the congestion problem, it would have added cost for drivers willing to pay for the right to drive in the HOT lanes. Vehicles with three or more people (up from two) would have been able to use the lanes for free, but others would have paid for the privilege.

Officials billed it as having the opportunity for an upgrade, much like adding pay channels to your basic cable package. But in the case of the HOT lanes, drivers would essentially be paying a tax for the right to drive in lanes their taxes have already paid for.

Added to that, the HOT lane proposal wouldn't ensure the other lanes being less backed up. Though part of the plan would be to motivate car poolers, in essence the only ones being helped by the new lanes would be the ones willing to pay.

We're all for something, make that anything, that helps move traffic along I-85. We hope the officials tasked with coming up with creative means of doing that will put their collective heads together to come up with a plan. But the idea of HOT lanes was never something we warmed to.