Oct. 1 was a red letter day for the people who are forced to drive the 16 miles of Interstate 85 every day through Gwinnett and part of DeKalb Counties. The much promoted . Several years ago, the high occupancy vehicle lanes were opened with much promotion to let us all know this was the final answer to our driving woes on that highly travelled part of Interstate 85. HOV was welcomed by the transportation folks to be able to cut down on the gridlock on this much travelled highway.
Now, seeing HOV did not work, the gurus-of-traffic-flow have come up with a dandy solution involving the separating of the citizens from more of their hard earned money to pay for the right of passage on 16 miles of bad road. Maybe I should not be pronouncing this another government failed idea too quickly. Taking a clue from the explanations given by Georgia Department of Transportation, it is easy to see why people are confused about this latest venture in solving the traffic woes of the Atlanta region.
As best I can understand, there is no cost to having a pass, , to be given permission to drive in the HOT lane. The cost, if I understand the explanation, comes about when one drives in the HOT lane. The cost will be determined by the time of day, the number of other vehicles in the lane and the number of passengers in the vehicle. And, oh, by the way, before we start down the HOT lane we have to go online and let someone know how many people are going to be in our vehicle as we make our way down the 16 miles of this old HOV lane. We are also being warned that traffic enforcement will be strict in the HOT lane. Traffic citations will be given out with a fine attached to them for breaking the rules. Non-payment of the fine could result in the loss of vehicle registration, as I understand the brief explanation about the use of HOT. To receive a Peach Pass, a person must have a credit card or debit card allowing the folks at GDOT/HOT to send the bill directly to their account for driving in the HOT lane.
Please know I am not the type of person who sees a conspiracy under every rock (or government program). Could it be, however, with this next failed attempt at dealing with the gridlock on I-85 there will be the push to expand light, or rapid rail, throughout the region? Call me skeptical, but the next weeks will document once again the confusion occurring when unknown prices are passed on to the over taxed population. From where I stand, some people will be willing to pay no matter the cost, but others will complain when they get their credit card bill and it is more than they are willing to pay for the right of passage on HOT.
Are the toll lanes a smart solution for our transportation problems? Tell us in the comments.