Gena L. Evans, PhD, executive director of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) announced last week that "the toll rate range for the I-85 Express Lane has been changed from 10 cents – 90 cents per mile to 1 cent – 90 cents per mile, thus allowing for lower rates during off peak hours.” The press release further stated, “Typical off-peak hours include, but are not limited to, the following time frames, depending on traffic: Midday 10AM – 3PM, Evening/Overnight 8PM – 6AM, and Friday 8PM – Monday 6AM”
This change in rate range came about because Governor Deal became involved in the process following the outrage registered by the drivers who were forced to drive in the ever-growing-back-up of vehicles on the 16 mile stretch of road on I-85 through a portion of Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties. The was made possible when federal money was granted to SRTA for the experimental transportation project. With this change in rate range, it is now possible for a driver with a to pay as little as 16 cents to use the HOT lane. According to SRTA, there are over 100,000 vehicles registered to use the HOT lane with their Peach Pass. On Thursday, Jan. 12, according to SRTA records, 12,080 vehicles used the HOT in the reporting time period.
As the new General Assembly has gotten underway, the Democrat Party announced they are calling for a three year waiting period to be in place before there are any other changes made on the Interstate roadway system in the Atlanta metro area. Governor Nathan Deal said that the drivers on the roads in the metro area do not want to wait three years to see any more improvements to the roadways.
Call me stubborn, but as a driver on that stretch of roadway, I do not wish that type of gridlock on any other drivers in the metro area. Should it take longer to come up with a “real” solution to the transportation needs of the metro area, I am willing to wait! I will not buy a Peach Pass.
Being a native of the South, one of the rules we hold on to is that once we reach the age of 16, we are going to have our personal vehicle and we are going to drive that vehicle over the roads. For a brief time, I have been to other parts of the country where the people are forced to use rapid rail, buses, subways, etc. to be able to get to their work place or take care of personal errands. When that happens, I can’t wait to get back home and drive my vehicle. In July, the voters are being asked to vote to raise their taxes another penny that will go into a massive transportation fund. From where I stand, it remains to be seen if the lower rate for the HOT lane will make the most of a bad situation.