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Real test for I-85 toll lanes comes Monday

Vehicular traffic moves northward Saturday as Interstate 85 express lanes are activated. Tolls are now charged for driving on the inside left lanes of Rt. 85 between Chamblee-Tucker to Old Peachtree.

Vehicular traffic moves northward Saturday as Interstate 85 express lanes are activated. Tolls are now charged for driving on the inside left lanes of Rt. 85 between Chamblee-Tucker to Old Peachtree.

NORCROSS -- A few weeks ago, Gena Evans thought the new toll lanes on Interstate 85 would have little impact their first rush hour in Gwinnett.

But after a run on Peach Passes -- the transponder required for traveling in the 16-mile HOT lanes stretch from Old Peachtree Road to Chamblee-Tucker Road -- the past few weeks, Evans said she doesn't know what to expect on Monday.

With a fraction of the usual weekday drivers on the interstate Saturday, the State Road and Tollway Authority marked "a new era in transportation" by beginning the new toll system, which is expected to spread throughout Atlanta in the next decade or so.

"It is really about having a choice," said Evans, the executive director of the tollway authority. "This provides a transportation advantage to people in that corridor who are willing to pay for that advantage."

Evans said the weekend launch was planned to give drivers a few days to get used to the lanes before the pressure of rush hour. But drivers will still have a "grace period" from fines to get used to the system, which has drawn fire from area residents.

"I think the whole thing is outrageous," said Spencer Snedecor, a Buford man who sometimes takes the highway as a single driver and sometimes carpools.

Cars with three or more people can ride in the lanes toll-free but still have to have a Peach Pass account and tell the authority. Snedecor said the requirements are onerous and he doesn't like that the government can track his travel.

"I think it'll create a hardship for Gwinnett residents. I think is unreasonable and outrageous," he said. "I think the road has already been paid for with my taxes."

Evans, though, downplayed complaints and confusion about the system.

"It's very, very simple from a commuter standpoint," she said. "The technology is very sophisticated, but the use of the lane is actually simple. Follow the rules of the road."

As of Friday morning, nearly 73,000 transponders had been issued, many in the last few weeks. The Peach Pass call center at 1-855-PCH-PASS worked through the weekend, and people also signed up via www.peachpass.com. The call center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays in October and will be open from 8 to noon on Saturdays this month.

Jimmy Spiro, a Suwanee man meeting his sister at the Indian Trail Park & Ride lot Friday, said he didn't know much about the system but he thought it might help traffic-clogged I-85.

"I think it's a good idea. If you want to pay, get in there and go," he said.

Using a managed lane system, where the toll price changes based on congestion, officials are hoping to keep the lane flowing to provide reliable trip times. During the peak traffic times, the toll could be as much as 90 cents a mile.

Data on how much was charged and the lane usage on Saturday was not available, and Evans said it could take months before the impact on traffic is known.

But officials also have hopes that the federally funded project could also have an impact on the economy.

"It's all about job growth and getting people to their jobs," said Jannine Miller of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, who is credited with the idea for bringing the managed lanes concept to Atlanta. "This will be a more effective use of our infrastructure. ... We will have, for drivers in the most congested corridor in Atlanta, an option for a better quality of life, more time with their families and less stress."

Comments

R 2 years, 6 months ago

"Cars with three or more people can ride in the lanes toll-free but still have to have a Peach Pass account and tell the authority."

In reality NO car pool rides free, you must put 20 dollars in the PeachPpass account first, which the state keeps as a NON REFUNDABLE "deposit". It would be great before we pass from the face of this earth if politicians would tell the damn truth just once.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 6 months ago

"It would be great before we pass from the face of this earth if politicians would tell the damn truth just once."

Why should they tell the truth when lying to the voters and robbing of them of their hard-earned money is so much more fun and profitable?

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 6 months ago

"It's all about job growth and getting people to their jobs," said Jannine Miller of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, who is credited with the idea for bringing the managed lanes concept to Atlanta. "This will be a more effective use of our infrastructure. ... We will have, for drivers in the most congested corridor in Atlanta, an option for a better quality of life, more time with their families and less stress."

Man, they REALLY are full of it, aren't they? They keep spouting the lies and deception as if backing up traffic in the general purpose travel lanes is really going to make everyone's collective quality-of-life better.

I don't think that Gina Evans, Jannine Miller and their frat-boy handlers up under the Gold Dome even believe their own lies that they continue to shamelessly spout about this horrific wasteful boondoggle.

If I was Jannine Miller there is no way on God's Green Earth that I would want to take credit for bringing this awful concept to Georgia.

Instead, if I were Ms. Miller, I would be trying to remain as anonymous as possible about bringing this horrendous idea to Georgia while trying to catch the first available plane out of town to make a new life for myself elsewhere.

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jack 2 years, 6 months ago

"It's all about job growth and getting people to their jobs," said Jannine Miller of the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, who is credited with the idea for bringing the managed lanes concept to Atlanta.

But, no, it wouldn't be about the money, would it, Jannine? Google "Jannine Miller patent".

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Mack711 2 years, 6 months ago

This all about raising money for other projects and possible keeping jobs for the ones who thought of this idea. it is not about moving traffic faster. When there is an accident on the interstate and all lanes are blocked then they will be sitting in the HOT lanes with the meter running. Some have said this may be class warfare,not sure on that one. They may call them Lexus lanes in other cities because of the amount you must pay for the privilige of moving faster. It makes no difference to most but when the Olympics came to Atlanta our starting was moved from 7AM to 6AM. So now we do not sit in traffic. Just how these lanes will affect entering and exiting I-85 probably has not been given much thought, or at least it appears that way.

My question will motorcycles be permitted in these lanes like they were in the HOV lanes? If someone knows that please post it here.

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cranberries 2 years, 6 months ago

Ms. Miller and Ms. Evans are hoping that we will conveniently forget that the very purpose of carpooling is to behave in a more environmentally-friendly manner. This lovely new setup (sarcasm intended) does nothing but let those jerks who cheated anyway pay to use the carpool lane, forces some of the existing carpoolers into the more-congested regular lanes, and ultimately lengthens our commutes. Once again, this is about the almighty tax dollar, and not about getting MORE CARS OFF THE ROAD and improving our quality of life. Seriously, they didn't even have the good grace to put an HOT entrance at the Discover Mills park and ride!!! Complete bull.

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LawrencevilleJim 2 years, 6 months ago

The best thing to happen, is for all motorists to refrain from having the DOT take your hard earned money, just so you can drive to work! Keep out of that foolish toll lane. I pay enough in fuel tax. exise tax. sales tax .property tax, self employment tax, inventory tax! STOP STEALING MY MONEY WHEN YOU NEED MORE RESOURCES TO FILL VOIDS IN YOUR OUT OF CONTROL SPENDING!!! Enough said.

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Mack711 2 years, 6 months ago

You forgot the trash plan.Now that is another issue that takes our right to chose and have the politicians to make choices for you.

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Tacusa 2 years, 6 months ago

They say they have already issued 73,000 transponders? That's a lot of cars using one lane of traffic! They are trying too hard to convince us that this is a good idea; which means it probably isn't. Thay have something similar in Houston and, when I was there this summer, those lanes moved slower than the regular lanes during rush hour and were empty during the rest of the day.

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Mack711 2 years, 6 months ago

While in Houston we also noticed the same issue. People there did not want this lane but was forced on them also.

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HonestIngine 2 years, 6 months ago

Why should they tell the truth when lying to the voters and robbing of them of their hard-earned money is so much more fun and profitable?

Just like the liar's in Peachtree Corners Area, telling us lies and more lies just to become another city in Gwinnett.

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