As of Wednesday, October 12, 2011
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Gwinnett Daily Post
ATLANTA -- A decision on whether two-person carpoolers can use Interstate 85's toll lanes for free is now in the hands of the federal government.
State Road and Tollway Authority Executive Director Gena Evans and Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood formally requesting a federal waiver.
The moves comes less than a week after Gov. Nathan Deal called for the change, along with a reduction to the tolls that was instituted last week.
On Oct. 1, toll lanes were activated from Old Peachtree Road to Chamblee-Tucker Road on I-85. The state has plans to expand the system throughout metro Atlanta, but Deal said changes needed to be made to the Gwinnett-DeKalb stretch to mollify angry drivers whose commutes have lengthened.
Many of the critics are people who used the High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes on I-85 for years before the new system allowed only carpoolers with at least three people in their vehicles to use the lanes for free.
In the letter to LaHood, Evans and Golden said "feedback received from motorists" caused the request for a change in a memorandum of understanding, which leaders signed in 2008 to receive a federal grant to pay for the project.