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Nash feels sympathy for I-85 drivers

In this file photo, the Express Lanes along I-85 don't show much traffic during a morning rush hour.

In this file photo, the Express Lanes along I-85 don't show much traffic during a morning rush hour.

By Camie Young

Senior Writer

camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com

LAWRENCEVILLE — Tolls are down. Usage of Interstate 85’s HOT lanes is up.

But traffic is still clogged.

The express lane system is in its second week, but stretches around Pleasant Hill Road still take up to three times as long as they did in the first days of the system, according to reports.

Last Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal intervened and the toll prices — still based on congestion — were cut by more than 40 percent.

“I am relieved that Gov. Deal has entered the discussion directly himself,” said Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who has not given her opinion about the controversial toll proposal but did not attend a ceremony launching the project two weeks ago. “I am so sympathetic with the folks who are so frustrated with it. ... There is certainly an impact on the traffic flow. There is no doubt about that.”

Nash has a Peach Pass, which gives her access to the toll lanes, but has vowed only to use it in “dire emergencies.”

One morning last week, she was late to a meeting in Atlanta, as the hour and a half drive from her home in the Harbins community stretched to two hours.

And she is even seeing the impact on surface streets, like Satellite Boulevard.

“Obviously people are trying to figure out ways to avoid the interstate and that creates more traffic on the surface streets,” she said. “Traffic is a funny thing. ... There are all sorts of ripple effects.”

Nash said she hoped the changes Deal has accelerated — the toll rates already lowered, the work on another access point and application for a waiver for two-person carpoolers to get free access — will help in trimming down the traffic.

“I can’t visualize the drivers in Gwinnett having to deal with this kind of situation indefinitely,” she said. “It’s not just the time. It’s the frustration people feel when they are in a situation they cannot control. ... I’m hopeful that (Deal) will keep pushing on this, and give folks some relief.”

Comments

champaignlady 3 years, 3 months ago

"Deal said if the project fails, it could endanger plans for toll lanes — also known as HOT lanes — on other highways in metro Atlanta."

WELL, let's make SURE that it IS an epic fail!!!!!

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Hangdog 3 years, 3 months ago

Those in other counties better get ready because GA DOT and SRTA are about to cram this mess down your throat as well. I hope the voters remember this mess at future elections.

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OutofMoney 3 years, 3 months ago

There is no doubt it will be a failure. I cannot believe they cannot see that the public will not be forced into paying for something they have already paid for. This might go down as the BIGGEST bust of the century. I am being asked to pay to drive on 400 and 85. I have to travel both to get to work. I will not pay to travel 85. I have no choice on 400 other than leave for work 1 hour earlier and try and have my boss let me off before 2 PM. That is how early traffic is now starting on 85.

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NewsReader 3 years, 3 months ago

WOW! we certainly didn't see that coming did we! LOL! What does he mean "...if it fails..."? That phrase in and of itself is absolutely hysterical. Who let that cat out of the bag that there was a plan to do this for other roads throughout Atlanta? This just keeps getting better and better. Keep it up, and we won't have to concern ourselves with TSPLOST will we? Hahahahahahahaha!

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dav 3 years, 3 months ago

They just dont get it,the public majority finds the HOT lanes as unacceptable and for just once I would like to see the braintrust behind this offer an appology for such a stupid idea

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citized 3 years, 3 months ago

He would make an appology but I think he's stuck in traffic!

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SuwaneeResident1 3 years, 3 months ago

I don't think this HOT lane idea ever had the support of anyone that would use I-85 on a daily basis. I thought the whole idea was to encourage carpooling to relieve traffic congestion. It's now a money grab thing. "If it Fails" hahaha.... If I spent 110 million on a failed project I'd PROBABLY lose my job if not more.

This was a horrible idea from the beginning.

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Mack711 3 years, 3 months ago

We attended the 'public hearing' when this was explained to the public. Many spoke against this idea. Not many spoke for it. It seemed more like a dog and pony show. As if their mind was already made up and nothing, or nobody was going to change their minds. Now we 'the public' are stuck with this disaster by waiting in traffic and paying over $100 million for this systen to work. When someone tells you that government knows how to do a project remind them of this failed project. It is time to cut our losses and do away with this plan and go back to 2 persons car pool lanes. At least it will cut time off of our commute. Govenor Deal we call upon you to stop the 'bleeding of funds and put a stop to this plan that has us stuck in traffic.

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rotom 3 years, 3 months ago

Tuesday A.M. 316 and 85 at 7:35. Arrive at 285 interchange 8:20. WT? Thanks get rid of this HOT lane.

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Jan 3 years, 3 months ago

A little history for those still optimistic about progressive change for HOT lane tolls. The first toll road in Georgia was the Torras Causeway built in 1924 for $418,000. with a 35 cent toll to pay for the construction. In 2003 they finally decided to do away with that toll on this causeway to St Simons Island. Then in 1993 the second toll road to open in Georgia opened, That was the part of 400 inside 285. That toll was designed for the soul purpose of funding the bonds to pay for that section and were scheduled to expire in 2011. In March 2009, data was released that showed that the cost of the road had been collected in full to pay off the bonds yet in September, 2010, the DOT and Toll Authority voted to extend the toll for an additional 20 years. Now the HOT toll lanes and 400 are the only toll roads in Georgia. The 400 toll is only 50 cents for cars, regardless of traffic, and saves considerably more time during rush hour than the HOT lane. Of course we can't expect common sense from people that pushed the toll from the beginning.

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TOWG 3 years, 3 months ago

Another well thought out, well planned, well intentioned government plan. Why is ANYBODY surprised?

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economist 3 years, 3 months ago

I drive I-85 every day and I LOVE the new HOT lanes!! All you people just keep whining and complaining and I will keep on flying past on your left and getting to work faster and faster. Or, PLEASE be like Chairman Nash and "vow to use them only in dire emergencies!" That will keep them even less congested! Seriously? You won't pay $1.55 not to sit in that traffic? That is the best deal going. You waste more than that in gas while you idle on I-85. AND, I bet most of you are "good, conservative, free-market Republicans." Well, welcome to the free market! Pure old-fashion market supply & demand pricing (unless you whine to the Governor and get him to interfere in the pricing system....doesn't sound very Republican to me.....) I happily paid the tolls last week when they were $2.35 going in and $4.55 going out. Even if it saves me only 20 minutes each way, that is $6.90 for 40 minutes which translates to $10.35 per hour. My time is worth WAY more than $10.35 per hour. Again, at these prices, the tolls are a bargain! My commute time is WAY down. So again, thanks to all of you for taking a stand and not using them. Keep up the good work. I'll wave as I drive by.

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dav 3 years, 3 months ago

Gwinnett Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who has not given her opinion ....True leadership qualities

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OrganicGrl 3 years, 3 months ago

@Economist...I totally agree with you. I don't understand the complaint. If people would stop complaining and use common sense and think, hmm if I pay say $1.55 to use the toll I think I am spending more than that sitting in traffic, burning gas with stop and go, ruining my brakes, and destroying my engine. Just a thought. I think technology literally took away people thinking process and common sense.

I don't even understand the thinking process of the government. If the sole benefit of the Hot lane is to reduce traffic why would you add 2 car lane to only a 1 lane toll. That will create more traffic in one lane.

Traffic is not coming from too many people on 85, but because people here can't drive. If you drive under the speed limit please stay away from the LEFT 3 lanes. Stay in your middle and far right lanes, because YOU are the one that causes traffic and accidents. I see too many gaps and people driving slow on interstate. You can have 70 cars in one lane and it takes only 1 person to cause a traffic jam even on the HOT Lanes

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tdman 3 years, 3 months ago

I am occassional commuter to Atlanta and having to try the new system today I was amazed that after getting on 85S at Old Peachtree Rd I had to travel all the way down to Beaver Ruin just to be able to get into the HOT lanes. This is where the big backup occurs around the merge with 316. Probably lost 20 minutes.They need to have more access to the HOT lanes in order for commuters to hop on it!

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LilburnLady 3 years, 3 months ago

To Economist: It's not exactly "free market" when the taxpayers pay for the construction of the interstate, the maintenance of the road and the construction of the toll system. We are being charged a toll to drive in a lane we have already paid for and a toll system we overwhelmingly did not want but was crammed down our throats by GA DOT.

It's also not exactly "free market" when the regular lanes are crippled by the construction of the Hot Lane. It's a scheme much like the mob uses to extort "protection money" from businesses. Basically, you pay the government not to have to sit in a horrible traffic mess that was created by the government using your money. I for one, will never buy a Peach Pass and will never drive in the Hot Lane. This extortion by the government who is supposed to represent us, has got to stop!

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raah 3 years, 3 months ago

The folks using the Hot lane are discovering that if they want to get out of the lane, they aren't given any space by the other drivers. I saw one driver come to a complete stop in the Hot lane waiting for an opening...

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snellvillemike 3 years, 3 months ago

To the economist, you are so far off base. One, the road was paid with tax dollars, maintained with tax dollars and there was not a problem with the arrangement we had with the HOV. The HOT is another way to tax us again. Besides, most people cannot afford $50 outlays a week, $200 a month to drive a patch of road, when it was $0 dollars before the HOT. At the public meetings, there was a large segment of the population who let their voices be heard, we did not want this HOT lane and no one was willing to listen to the public. It was frustrating then, because everyone in the room felt like we were just there for a show. The decision was already made. Well, we the public are speaking with our driving habits. And, Gov., you can lower the fee all the way to $0, we still might not use the lane, because we would not want this project to be expanded upon others. Ga 400 should be toll free like it was promised to be.

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hpytravlr 3 years, 3 months ago

Economist: Driving very far and fast to commute to work. Doesn't sound very DEMOCRAT like to me. Polluting the air for the future generations. Hypocrite!

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Hangdog 3 years, 3 months ago

Please remember this HOT Lane mess and the lack of cooperation by the bureaucrats when the T-SPLOST vote comes around. Also, I'm still amazed that Gena Evans is fired from GaDOT and then gets a job with SRTA. Gena "Just Add Another Car Pool Partner" Evans.

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Braveshopr 3 years, 3 months ago

"Nash has a Peach Pass, which gives her access to the toll lanes, but has vowed only to use it in “dire emergencies.”

Right..

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