There are two things going on here.
The first is that a PROMISE was made to the public years ago that the tolls would come down once the bonds had been retired. There was no ifs, and or buts included in that promise. So Sonny Perdue and Gena Evans are now trying to trick you into forgetting about the PROMISE by teasing us with some vague plan about new improvements for GA 400.
The second is that there is a MAJOR transportation plan for one of Atlanta's MAJOR transportation arteries, that has been conceived, developed and agreed upon IN TOTAL SECRECY. These proposed projects, when revealed, may very well be great projects. But when this entire scheme, spearheaded by ethically challanged Perdue and Evans, is done in entire secrecy, then the public has reason to be outraged and suspicious.
Mark my words. The HOV to HOT conversion on I-85N, as currently designed, will be a gigantic screw-up. Generally, HOV to HOT makes good sense. But this is a SINGLE LANE, with no emergency shoulder, and with no dedicated HOT off ramps. That means anyone using the HOT lane who wishes to exit, must somehow merge across 6 lanes to get to the general purpose exit ramps. Now try doing that at rush hour when the general purpose lanes are traveling at 3 mph. The first person wanting to exit the HOT system will cause the rest of the HOT lane to come to a halt, thus defeating the purpose of paying a toll for guaranteed mobility. Good concept. Disasterous design.
For 97% of the traveling public, their choice of transportation mode is the automobile. That is a fact. Trying to get suburbanties to move from their 1 acre lots into a high density development is a losing proposition. Notice how well the Atlanta condo market is doing, even at give away prices?
Less than 3% of the traveling public use MARTA. To move the needle to 20% usage would require a 7-fold increase in density in the core Atlanta region. Forget any fixed rail program. Bus Rapid Transit is the only transit option that makes any sense at all.
Express Bus and Bus Rapid Transit are much better transit options than this sudden hysteria about heavy rail, lite rail and commuter rail. Busses require far less capital investment, far less operating expense and routes are easily shifted to suit changing population trends.
The problem with the Express Bus system is that the federal funding to operate the system is beginning to run out and local governments are not willing or able to fill the funding gap. Clayton County has already shown what will happen when the costs are shifted to the counites.
Converting HOV's to HOT makes a lot on sense, but the I-85 demonstration project will be a gigantic screw-up because of a poor engineering design. But some say, at least we will get 2 nice new park-n-ride lots out of the project. Of the $160 million, about $90 million will be for the park-n-ride lots.
Oh, wait a minute ... those lots are for the people who ride the Express Bus System, that will be ended beginning next year because the counties won't pay the operating costs. So there goes another $160 million pissed away by Sonny Perdue and Gena Evans, the ones who dreamed up this loser of an idea.
Creative Loafing Atlanta
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