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Feds say no to free ride for two-person carpools

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Federal officials have rejected the call for free access to HOT lanes for carpoolers.

But Gov. Nathan Deal, who pushed for the change in the first week of the toll on Interstate 85 last month, is continuing the drive, said spokeswomen.

"The HOT lane has only been operating for a brief period, and we believe it is too early to evaluate its effectiveness at this time," wrote Jeffrey Lindley, associate administrator for operations for the Federal Highway Administration, in a letter to state officials.

Lindley pointed to a toll project in Miami where the usage increased after "fine tuning."

"There are many factors that could be contributing to the under utilization, including the time it takes to form a three-person carpool, market penetration of transponders, toll rates and user unfamiliarity with the concept and benefits," Lindley said, adding that his staffers will help identify and implement strategies.

On Oct. 1, the state converted 16 miles of high-occupancy vehicle lanes in Gwinnett and DeKalb to high-occupancy toll lanes, angering two-member carpoolers who had free access to the lanes for a decade by limiting free access to three-plus person carpools.

Malika Wilkins of the State Road and Tollway Authority said the organization, along with the Georgia Department of Transportation, is currently working to provide statistics to federal officials to make a case for the change.

On Nov. 4, SRTA Director Gena Evans and GDOT Commissioner Keith Golden wrote a letter to Lindley asking him to reconsider.

State officials are also working on the governor's request to add another access point to the toll lanes between Old Peachtree Road and Beaver Ruin, Wilkins said. Deal said the toll lane usage could be impaired because there is no access in that five-mile stretch in the southbound lanes.

Last month, SRTA officials took immediate action on the governor's biggest quibble with the system, cutting tolls in half just days after they began.

Toll lane usage has increase steadily since the change, eclipsing 10,000 vehicles a day.

Comments

JohnGalt 2 years, 10 months ago

If you increase it by one vehicle a day, that constitutes a "steady" increase. Now we have federal mouth pieces to add to Malika Wilkins. I'm still not using it. Just like that joke of a meeting this past week. Heed the warning politicians. Get your resume polished...your services are no longer needed by Georgians. We are going to elect officials that will forever remove this foolishness.

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Oliver 2 years, 10 months ago

I sure do love it when the Federal bureaucracy tells us what we can and can't do and takes over more and more of our lives. They are so responsive and fully understand all of our needs. We need to find other aspects of our lives that we can turn over to them. How about education and health care? I'm sure they'd do a stellar job of handling those as well. [end sarcasm]

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hpytravlr 2 years, 10 months ago

Idiots. But the real problem is there is no way on or off for Gwinnettians. Why are residents who choose to live way out in the woods treated better than those who live close in?

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dan 2 years, 10 months ago

I love the HOT lanes! I never have to sit in traffic. I hope more HOV lanes in Atlanta are converted to HOT lanes.

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RetiredPD 2 years, 10 months ago

Look closely at the information that is provided. The number of vehicles in the HOT lane is 10,000 per DAY! It also doesn't mention that the 10,000 vehicles is the total for both northbound and southbound travel. They don't mention that there are several hundred thousand vehicles that travel the corridor each day. How many of the 10,000 are paying versus free? Take out the motorcycles and the 3 or more carpools and how many paying vehicles are there? How much was spent on adding or improving the lanes? At this rate when is the break even on the money spent? Why are the HOT lanes not free on weekends? Do they actually believe that people would rather pay than travel in the free lanes?

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 10 months ago

Very good points. About 297,000 vehicles per day use I-85 between Spaghetti Junction and Jimmy Carter Boulevard and supposedly about $70 million of the $110 million grant that SRTA received from the Feds was used to convert the HOV-2 lanes to HOT/HOV-3 lanes while the remaining $40 million of the grant was supposedly used for increased commuter bus service on I-85. Only about a fraction of the 10,000 vehicles that supposedly use the HOT lanes are actually paying the tolls to use the lanes. From what I understand, there are no plans or intentions to break even on this project as this project was pretty much meant to be "experimental" in the way that it is a demonstration on how to setup future HOT lane implementations and conversions in the Atlanta Region, conversions which include adding yet another HOT lane in each direction on I-85 for a total of two HOT lanes in each direction on I-85 between I-285 and I-985.

The lanes are not free on weekends and off-peak hours so that they can keep the lane cleared for V.I.P.s at all times. With this particular "project" on I-85, they don't really care whether people would rather use the free lanes instead of paying as there is no intent to make a profit or break even on the project. As I mentioned before in the comments section of the "Accountability on minds of HOT lanes foes at town hall" article, these lanes are not even remotely about making a profit, but are about socially-engineering behavior to make people want to use future mass transit lines extended into and built in the county by creating huge traffic jams in the remaining free lanes and on parallel major surface roads.

The HOT lanes are also keeping at least one lane in one direction of the expressways cleared of traffic at all times for V.I.P.s (high-ranking government officials, high-ranking business excutives, very wealthy international investors and venture capitalists looking to pour hundreds billions of dollars into the Atlanta Region and North Georgia).

Metro Atlanta has reached the stage of its "development" and "growth" where the government (which in this case are the state and regional governments) is going to force people to ride mass transit, whether they currently want to or not, by severely limiting the amount of capacity that is added to the highways, i.e., new free lanes on expressways and surface roads. It the kind of socialist-tinged transportation policies that are seen in major Northeastern cities and states.

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psychientology 2 years, 10 months ago

Every time the federal government makes a decision it is blatantly ignorant. Since the feds do not have their own patrol officers I believe this problem can be worked out in Georgia.

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Gundoctor1 2 years, 10 months ago

Hey we elected them. Want to change it? You know what to do. Typing silly letters is not going to get them to do anything. I'm sure they wake up and say, let's look in the GDP and see what changes we need to make today. Give them no warnings. They have already had those.

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Bruce 2 years, 9 months ago

One past Saturday, I rode alone I-85, looking back miles, noticed no vehicles in the lane. What a wastes!

Now, the Federal Goverment is telling you who can get into your car? I think those people forget who they actually for. I think they forget the people dont work for them.

This was either a poorly planned idea or just a plan to make the commute easier for upscale commuters for a number of possible reasons.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 9 months ago

More like a plan to make the commute easier for upscale motorists.

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jack 2 years, 9 months ago

Did not the state of Georgia apply for the funds to implement the Hot lanes from the Feds? Looks as if the Feds are now muscling in on Georgia's territory. It's what happens when you take loans with strings attached from shady characters.

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Linda 2 years, 9 months ago

Don't like the HOT lanes? Maybe you should get out and VOTE. Get in bed with the federal government and you get screwed every time. The only way to stop this greedy federal government is to VOTE. obama's spending plan at it's best.

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toby 2 years, 9 months ago

This is what happens when lawyers run the country. "Shoot the lawyers first".

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CD 2 years, 9 months ago

Folks: keep in mind that the state asked for the funds; the feds did not push this down. In turning the carpool request down, they are doing nothing but keeping to the conditions of the grant in the first place. The fault is with the gluttonous republican delegation. Blame the republican delegation for allowing this to happen or for the fact they were proponents of this from the start. Either way, HOT is here and those that knew and did nothing or those that supported HOT lanes should be removed from office. This is not about the federal government in this instance but our local, "tax-cutting" republicans that have allowed a DOUBLE TAXATION scheme to be placed upon the citizens. This is merely a prelude to the privatization schemes that will follow.

I have the resources to utilize HOT lanes, but I do not. I simply cannot abide double taxation or those that promote double taxation.

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hpytravlr 2 years, 9 months ago

I will not be voting to reelect Obama or Deal. These two are incompetent.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 9 months ago

Here's a link to an article titled "Poll shows HOT lanes despised by public" provided by the guys over at stolenlanes.org that shows just how unpopular the HOT Lanes are with Georgia voters and motorists:

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/poll-shows-hot-lanes-despised-public/nFmBr/#comments

From the article:

“ATLANTA — It’s clear new toll lanes on Interstate 85 are not popular with some drivers, but a new InsiderAdvantage/Channel 2 Action News poll puts them in a historic place alongside the Northern Arc and the last Georgia state flag……”

“The poll asked registered voters in metro Atlanta, “If you are aware of the I-85 HOT lanes what are your opinions?” A staggering low 4 percent said the lanes are effective. Twenty-eight percent said the lanes are not effective, and 45 percent said the lanes are making traffic worse. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent…..”

“”This is the most hated concept probably ever created in the history of government. I’ve never seen anything like it,” said InsiderAdvantage CEO Matt Towery……”

“”It says they need to take those lanes and immediately eliminate them,” Towery told Channel 2 political reporter Lori Geary……”

“Drivers using the interstate daily told Geary the toll lanes have done nothing but make their travels worse……”

“Towery said he doesn’t think the toll lanes will hurt Gov. Nathan Deal who took office with the toll lane construction well under way, but he told Geary the new toll lanes will make it extremely difficult to pass a penny sales tax for transportation that voters will be asked to vote on next year……”

“”They are building nothing but bad will in a year that they’re trying to pass a transportation SPLOST. You can’t build bad will and also at the same time ask people to vote for an increase in taxes,” Towery said…….”

“”It’s a total disaster. Without doubt one of the biggest blunders in the history of Georgia politics since I’ve been covering it,” Towery said.”

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