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Usage triples in first month of HOT lanes

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Three times as many drivers are using the express lanes on Interstate 85 four weeks after tolls began.

Each week since the Oct. 1 opening, the lanes have reached a new record, proving for now the expectations of officials of an increase in usage.

More than 10,000 drivers used the lanes Thursday -- a huge jump from the 1,041 on the opening day and the 3,217 from the first weekday.

"We've definitely been focused on improving express lanes usage through a variety of ways and the results we are seeing are in line with those efforts," said State Road and Tollway Authority spokeswoman Malika Reed Wilkins.

After a public outcry in the opening week, Gov. Nathan Deal called for a reduction in the tolls, and SRTA's rate were cut nearly in half.

The average toll paid Thursday was $1 compared to a high of $2.35 charged Oct. 4. The highest amount charged for the entire 16-mile stretch from Old Peachtree Road to Chamblee-Tucker Road was $1.95 during both the morning and afternoon rush hours Thursday.

While Deal has also called for a new access point and a waiver from the federal government to allow two-person carpools free access to the lanes, those changes have not yet been implemented.

At a town hall meeting Monday, interim Transportation Commissioner Gerald Ross said officials had expected it to take time for people to get used to the system. That increase was evident in four cities that had implemented HOT lanes in the past.

"As time went on, people got used to it, it started to settle out," he said of traffic in the other cities. "The data is just going in and it's going to take some time."

Comments

dav 3 years, 1 month ago

The same people who came up with this HOT disaster are the same ones coming up with the usage numbers and we are to believe them?

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Mack711 3 years, 1 month ago

You can change numbers to reflect any thing you want. One must ask,as a previous poster said, how many of these were paying, how many were free and how many were 3+ plus? Also how many actually paid during rush hour? When you get the TRUE numbers you will see that this useage will drop. We must ask if the Peach Pass is good for only one vehicle if so a family that has 2 or more must register each and pay a fee for each. How many have done this?.

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JohnGalt 3 years, 1 month ago

I understand the media lending credibility to their spokesperson, Malika Reed Wilkins. I'm not interested in anything this SRTA mouthpiece has to say. She is not part of the solution. She is part of the problem. I didn't hire her, nor would I ever hire her. She doesn't work for me. However, the legislators do work for me. I(we) elected them to do a job. Right now, that job is to remove this enormous mess they (DOT & SRTA) have perpetuated onto the people of Gwinnett County. Just call it what it is - a taxation without representation, and deal with it accordingly. Aside from the few self-serving selfish morons that speak up in here in favor of this boondoggle, most people in Gwinnett by and large detest the HOT lanes. And no amount of BS about usage statistics is going to change it. This is what they want and are hoping for - that is, that you will just finally give up the fight, give in, and use the lanes because you feel like you have little other choice in the matter. Wake up people, and if the elected officials don't take action to remove this crap, show them the exit door. I'm also tired of hearing "...my hands are tied..." and "...there's nothing I can do..." and what have you. If there is nothing you can do, then you cannot represent me because I don't vote for people who say "...there's nothing I can do..."

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Enik 3 years, 1 month ago

You expect anyone to believe their numbers. They will say whatever they want to keep their little money maker going. I traveled this past week on the 85 parkway and there was not a sole in the HOT lane. But I knew they would fib numbers and lie to get the public and this paper to heal to them. Give me a break, this HOT lane is a joke, and wait till Monday night when Holloween gridlocks Gwinnett even worse with this dumb lane.

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OutofMoney 3 years, 1 month ago

Please give the public the number using the lanes that had to pay. ALso what is the average usage each day of paid drivers. Not the SRTA buses etc..

I bet this is number that will not be made public. As the earlier person post. You can make the numbers say anything you would like.

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jack 3 years, 1 month ago

I wonder how these numbers compare to usage pre-HOT? That we have not heard any statistics about that speaks volumes.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"Usage triples in first month of HOT lanes"

....Yeah, only after the state created massive traffic jams of Biblical proportions.

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economist 3 years, 1 month ago

As someone who actually uses the lanes, I can say that yes, usage has gone up. I am still moving at no less than 55 MPH the whole way, but there are a lot more cars in the lane. No one can argue that during rush hour, I-85 is an over-allocated and scarce resource. And what mechanism do good, free-market Republican capitalists use to allocate a scarce resource? Oh yea, that would be price. And, it would appear to me that price is doing a fine job of allocating that resource. And, as that resource (the HOT lane) continues to get use (as is currently happening) and becomes over-allocated itself, then the price (toll) will rise, continuing to efficiently allocate the scare resource. And commuters will continue to make the personal cost-benefit trade-off to decide if they will sit in traffic or pay the toll. I love it when economics works. I also love how the good conservatives of Gwinnett love the price system until it inconveniences them.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

"No one can argue that during rush hour, I-85 is an over-allocated and scarce resource. And what mechanism do good, free-market Republican capitalists use to allocate a scarce resource? Oh yea, that would be price. And, it would appear to me that price is doing a fine job of allocating that resource."

The powers-that-be are NOT "allocating a scarce resource", the powers-that-be are attempting to stick-up a captive audience that has no other choice but to drive on I-85 everyday if they want to get to and from work everyday.

All that the state is doing is creating a massive problem and then charging people to get out of the problem it created. Traffic was bad enough on I-85 before the HOT lanes went into effect, but it wasn't THIS BAD.

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kmsimpson 3 years, 1 month ago

I think you are forgetting they are charging us for something WE HAVE ALREADY PAID FOR with our taxes. This does not even rise to the ranks of taxation without representation, it's outright theft. The government took our money to build the roads supposedly so we could use them. Now that the government has screwed up it's budget, Gwinnett is the pig to be slaughtered with the HOT toll lanes.

If the problem is actually traffic, why are the 2 passenger cars not allowed to use the lanes? If the problem truly is traffic, why are we required to get a Peach Pass to use the lane EVEN if we have enough people in the vehicle? If traffic is actually the problem, why isn't Cobb County required to even have HOV lanes? Does Cobb County no longer contribute to the traffic situation in Metro Atlanta?

All of these questions give an answer that isn't pretty.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

Here's a link to an article by Benita M. Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, which is a political think tank that has been heavily pushing the HOT lane concept here in Georgia. Ms. Dodd opines that the state should not only stick to its guns but should also double-down and convert more free lanes and build more HOT lanes in the face of widespread massive opposition and obvious unpopularity of the HOT lane concept and the resulting massive traffic jams that it has caused in Gwinnett and Northeast Metro Atlanta:

http://www.georgiapolicy.org/article.asp?RT=&p=pub/Transportation/HOTlanes111028.html

Here's also a link to an article in the Marietta Daily Journal in Cobb County about the next stretch of freeway on I-75/575 in Northwest Metro Atlanta targeted by state officials to receive HOT lanes. Checkout some of the responses below the article and the reluctance by many Cobb residents to receive a concept that has done nothing to relieve congestion but increase it:

http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/16225057/article-Toll-lane-work-to-begin-soon?instance=home_news_bullets

And also, here's the link to an article in the Toll Roads News about the state's intent to expand the HOT lane concept to encompass almost every major expressway in Metro Atlanta to the tune of 285 miles and $16.2 BILLION that I provided in the comments section of the article about the new HOT lanes Town Hall meeting. Be sure to scroll down the lane and checkout the section of the article titled "Managed Lane Network" that describes, in some detail, state officials plans to expand the network metrowide, including converting another free lane, this time a general purpose lane, in each direction so that I-85 will have TWO HOT lanes in each direction from Spaghetti Junction to the I-985 exit through Gwinnett:

http://www.tollroadsnews.com/node/5540

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Mack711 3 years, 1 month ago

Just read these and have some very good information in each that all need to read.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 1 month ago

Basically, the state wants to induce demand to use HOT lanes by artificially creating widespread gridlock and converting existing free HOV-2 and general purpose lanes to HOT lanes. One would have to seriously question the state's approach of worsening the already bad enough congestion problem to massively bad proportions to attempt to create demand for a new network of toll lanes with little to no regard for the political consequences that may ensue by doing so.

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danolator 3 years, 1 month ago

I say we pay the minimum to get a Pi$$ Pass and then get in the lane during rush hour and drive the legal minimum speed.

Citizens of Gwinnett outnumber the other counties. Think very hard about this atrocity being shoved down our throats before you support a sales tax to support road activities in other counties.

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Hangdog 3 years, 1 month ago

I received an e-mail from the Deputy Exec. Director of SRTA. This comment was a new argument I haven't heard yet on a reason to convert the HOV lanes to HOT lanes. Up until now, it has generally been to improve all traffic. That is, except for the spokesman from the governor's office who said that charging for HOT lanes was one of the few remaining revenue sources for the state. While I greatly appreciate him responding to one of my questions, I'm still amazed by the variety of reasons we are given for shoving this mess down our throats. His statement below seems to imply that the reason was to make the traffic in the HOT lanes move more quickly. Good grief.

============================== "For some years, congestion in the existing I-85 HOV lanes in Gwinnett County has been increasing due to factors such as increased vehicles and a number of single occupant vehicles using the lanes amongst other factors. This lead to times when the HOV lane would also become congested (at times as congested as the other lanes). An environmental study was undertaken in 2009 by GDOT to consider several alternatives to ensure reliable travel times for commuters moving forward, including keeping the lane as HOV. After a yearlong environmental review process, which included eight public information open houses and a public hearing open house, the determination was made to convert the HOV (2+ person occupancy) lanes to HOT (3+ person occupancy) lanes." ========================

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