I-75/575 HOT Lane Plans Revived

It’s baaaaaaack.

That’s right, dear readers. The plan to build high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties is back.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and several legislators have proposed that the state provide an additional $300,000,000 in taxpayer funds that otherwise would have been provided through a public-private partnership (P3).

The estimated costs of these new HOT lanes is approximately $870,000,000, which would come from the following sources…

Motor Fuel Taxes: $500,000,000 (was $200,000,000 under the P3 plan)
Loan From Federal Government: $270,000,000
Bonds: $100,000,000

The Georgia DOT (GDOT), however, would still have to approve this latest incarnation.

Unlike the I-85 HOT lanes, these would be brand new reversible lanes built alongside the existing Interstates. However, given that these lanes would be paid for primarily using our tax dollars, I would much rather see these lanes being built as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes instead of so-called “Lexus lanes” that would essentially make them “rich people’s” lanes for solo drivers.

If said lanes are truly about congestion reduction, it would be much wiser IMHO to make them “HOV-2” (one driver, plus one or more passengers) that would allow carpools, buses (e.g. GRTA Xpress), motorcycles, emergency vehicles, and alternative-fueled vehicles (e.g. natural gas-powered cars).

So far, there’s no mention of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), but it’s a sure-fire bet that their hands would definitely be involved in this whole deal as the state’s tolling agency… and as SRTA has already shown us with GA 400 and the I-85 HOT lanes, they looooove to take our hard-earned money and give us the shaft.

If anyone at GDOT is reading this blog, then I urge you to listen to Georgia’s drivers and reject this project altogether. All drivers, regardless of income level, race, creed, color, etc., deserve an equal opportunity to use Georgia’s highways and making people pay to use lanes that their tax dollars already paid for amounts to “double taxation”.

Governor Deal and GDOT, I thank you very much for rejecting the prior I-75/I-575 P3 proposal. Please, however, go one step further and reject the toll option altogether.

If you, dear Georgia readers, wish to contact GDOT and urge them to put the brakes on HOT lanes altogether, then please click here.

Please also let your elected officials in the Georgia General Assembly know as well. To find your State Senator and/or Representative, please click here.

Bottom line is this… HOT lanes are a bad idea. They really don’t help congestion and are a colossal waste of taxpayer money. However, we, the people can work together to throw cold water on the HOT lanes and assure that any and all transportation plans can be tailored to benefit all Georgians. If anyone wants to build a toll road, then they are more than welcome to pay for it themselves (raise capital, purchase right-of-way, design, build, and maintain), market it to drivers, and assume the responsibility for their private road just like you would if you opened your own business.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and please come back often.

SOURCE: “Plan Would Fund I-75/I-575 Toll Project“, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 2, 2012

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