Friday, March 22, 2013

Ga. 400 tolls to close in late November

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Goodbye, tolls!
Ga. Highway 400, the oft-congested freeway that connects Atlanta to its nothern suburbs, will soon be free of tolls.

The State Road and Tollway Authority announced yesterday that the expressway's tollbooths are scheduled to be shut down on Nov. 21. If there happens to be inclement weather, the change-collecting kiosks will be removed on either Nov. 22 or 23.

"Starting with this meeting, we'll be getting out in the community, [to] Chambers of Commerce, and local neighborhood groups through now and November," SRTA Deputy Executive Director Chris Tomlinson said during a House transportation committee meeting on Thursday.

Tomlinson also added that demolition of the toll plaza would not take place until next year. SRTA estimates that it will cost $4.5 million. Meanwhile, the toll plaza's adjacent office building will remain intact and be turned over to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

This follows Gov. Nathan Deal's initial announcement before last year's T-SPLOST vote promising that tolls on Ga. 400 would be phased out by the end of 2013. The move reversed an extension of the 50-cent toll enacted by former Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Originally, the tolls were slated to be removed in 2011. In December 2010, however, the state issued an additional $40 million in bonds tied to the toll revenue.

When the governor announced the toll closures last summer, he also mentioned that the state needed to "work on long-term solutions" in the 400 corridor. A SRTA spokeswoman told WSB-TV that the transportation agency estimates an 18 percent increase in volume will follow the November toll removals.

In somewhat related news, MARTA recently asked for community feedback about its Georgia 400 corridor initiative. The transit agency is working with regional stakeholders including the Federal Transit Administration, Atlanta Regional Commission, and GDOT to look for alternative ways to reduce the expressway's congestion.

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