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Gov. Deal: Georgia 400 tolls to end

ATLANTA — Looking to restore public confidence in state government spending ahead of the hard-fought campaign over the transportation tax referendum on the upcoming primary ballot, Gov. Nathan Deal on Thursday announced the end of tolls on Ga. 400 by the end of next year.

Deal said the announcement makes good on a promise he made to voters.

"It should convey to the public that government should be trusted," Deal told reporters in a press conference at the Capitol. "For some, the argument against the TSPLOST is about trust. I want to remove that impression, and I think this is a good faith effort to do exactly that."

Opponents of the transportation tax proposal have blasted the plan as a losing strategy that does not address sprawl or smart growth. Georgia Tea Party Patriots State Coordinator Debbie Dooley said Thursday the governor's decision was "insulting."

"Desperation ... that's all this is," Dooley said. "If they keep doing this, it could help, but it does nothing to restore trust before the vote. It's a good thing, but his intentions are not to help the taxpayers. His intentions are to help with the passage of the largest tax increase in Georgia history. He must think voters are pretty shallow not to see past this obvious ploy."

Metro Atlanta, along with the rest of the state, is set to vote on the referendum on July 31. The outcome is expected to be close, and Deal — along with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and members of the region's business community — have expressed their support. Deal pointed to one of the larger items on the region's wish list, which would funnel $400 million into an infrastructure project at Ga. 400 and I-285, as a crucial project.

According to the State Road and Toll Authority, the Ga. 400 extension was completed in 1993 and was the first project of its kind in the U.S. Nearly 120,000 people use the 6.2-mile system every weekday and the state collects about $60,000 a day. The toll for most cars is 50 cents, which is used to pay down bond debt, operate and maintain the highway and fund the agency's operations.

The toll was originally scheduled to come down after 20 years, ending in 2011. But two years ago, the state voted to extend the toll for up to a decade to fund new transportation improvement projects on Ga. 400, and also issued $40 million in new bonds to pay for those projects.

State Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, has called for the removal of the toll for three years.

"Although meant to be a temporary source of infrastructure revenue, the 400 toll has become a transportation barrier," said Albers.

The bonds were set to mature on June 1, 2017. Deal said the state will now pay them off four years ahead of schedule, in December of next year. The earlier payment is the soonest the state can act to avoid costly penalties, Deal said.

The governor's proposal requires the approval of the State Road and Toll Authority.

Comments

SickandTired 2 years, 1 month ago

Oh Gov. Deal you are so transparent. BTW, "Deal says the tolls were originally set to end in 2017"......That is not true. The Ga. 400 toll was originally scheduled to come down after 20 years, ending in 2011. However, in 2010 – then-candidate Deal promised to end the toll the following year – so the state issued new bonds tied to the toll revenue in order to pay for improvements in the Ga. 400 corridor, including a new connector to I-85. The $40 million in new bonds were issued Dec. 1, 2010, and they mature June 1, 2017.

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CD 2 years, 1 month ago

Even a Gluttonous Heathen understands that 2 bags of candy are better than 1 bag. Good faith efforts would not be necessary if our leaders conducted themselves properly.

In the end, the Heathens will come back in for that 3rd bag of candy anyway.

It's always plus-plus for a Heathen.

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R 2 years, 1 month ago

The naysayer’s polls must have more traction the Mayor cares to admit. Or did someone just realize the toll revenue was ALREADY tucked away in the TSPLOST somehow, since the project can’t be changed after the fact right?

We can just picture the scene now.

We promised that the booths would be removed after you passed TSPLOST, but the actual revenues vs. projected just aren't matching up.

We tried and tried to do it, but there's just no way around leaving the tolls in place for the foreseeable future.

And the ghost of Bill Clinton lives on.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

Wow! This single bold act has completely eliminated my distrust of government! I am now prepared to impose any number of taxes upon myself with the full knowledge that my contributions will be spent effectively, efficiently, and ethically! Bless you, Governor Deal, for restoring my faith in politicians!

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Mack711 2 years, 1 month ago

Now that you have lived up to your campagin promise some 3 years late. How long will it take you to remove the HOT lanes from I-85? This is just a vote getting tactic for T-SPLOST, Please do not take the bait.

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NewsReader 2 years, 1 month ago

Exactly Mack711! I am so outraged over these toll lanes on I-85, I don't give a crap what they ask for in Tax Revenue. Then answer is always going to be "NO". And after they have finally removed this outrageous tax upon the people of Gwinnett, it will be at least 20 years before I would give remote consideration to any added tax!

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jjbod1 2 years, 1 month ago

Personally i love how the toll will still go on until next Dec, not this one. That also gives them plenty of time to come back and say, "Oh wait we where thinking, we really need that toll money after all, sorry. I am with many others, as long as there are tolls on 85. I also will never vote yes on a road tax again. I cant wait till election day, i so hope this fails big time.

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jack 2 years, 1 month ago

They also have this wiggle room:

"The governor's proposal requires the approval of the State Road and Toll Authority."

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rco1847 2 years, 1 month ago

End EZ Pass - we paid for those lanes once, we should be able to use tham without paying again. VOTE NO on SPLOST. No end to EZ Pass - No support for SPLOST. VOTE NO iIt's just another excuse to tax and spend

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Jay 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm okay with the TSPLOST projects, I am NOT okay with who's in charge of spending those funds. I am TIRED of our politicians. It offends my intelligence that Governor Deal actually thinks we believe it was just a coincidence that this announcement comes right before the vote.

I looked at the projects for Gwinnett County and some that would affect me. At first, I was pretty happy, but then I saw those projects weren't going to be considered until after 2040! What the heck!! I'll probably be too old to even drive a car by then.

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