Toll for Reagan project?
HOT lanes may affect parkway's extension

LAWRENCEVILLE - The recently announced project to bring high-occupancy toll lanes to Interstate 85 could give more weight to a proposed public-private initiative to extend Ronald Reagan Parkway, officials said.

While officials had planned to bring a recommendation on the proposal for a three-mile extension to I-85 by the end of the year, Transportation Director Brian Allen said the federal grant for the I-85 project has brought another factor into the decision.

"We've had some discussions with (Georgia Department of Transportation) and Federal Highway (Administration) about how we can tie the two projects together," Allen said, adding that the county chose to wait on its Ronald Reagan decision, which could also be funded through tolls, to learn the details of the I-85 plan.

Last month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters announced a $110 million grant to convert the high-occupancy vehicle lanes from Old Peachtree Road to Interstate 285 to congestion-priced high-occupancy toll lanes. The project is slated to be complete by 2011.

Since Ronald Reagan could be extended to have an interchange on I-85 within that stretch, Allen said cooperation is necessary. For example, by tying the projects together, people could use one type of technology, such as a Cruise Card, to pay both tolls.

"We've still got a lot of details to work out," he said. "There are some real possibilities here, and that's what we want to see to coordinate."