Deal: Tolls Dropping for I-85 HOT Lanes

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Atlanta, GA (AP) - Amid complaints from commuters that the cost of
using the new High Occupancy Toll lanes on Interstate Highway 85 is
too high, Gov. Nathan Deal said Thursday the rates are being
dropped.

The State Road and Tollway Authority opened the lanes last
weekend along a stretch of I-85 in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties,
giving commuters the option of paying a toll for a quicker trip,
with the cost varying with traffic volume. So far, it appears that
the toll lanes are being lightly used.

"Looking at what we've learned from our first four work days
with the HOT lanes, I've asked SRTA to improve utilization of the
express lanes," Deal said. "In the short term, the toll rate will
lower -- starting with Thursday afternoon's commute -- but the
effective rate will continue to change to regulate speed and
volume."

Previously, drivers were able to use High Occupancy Vehicle
lanes along I-85 without cost, provided the vehicle had at least
two occupants. The HOT arrangement requires three occupants for a
toll-free ride

Deal said federal regulations require a vehicle to have three
occupants for the toll to be waived. He said he will seek a waiver
of that rule, allowing vehicles with two occupants to travel
toll-free, but did not know how long that would take.

"As governor, I'm committed to finding transportation solutions
that help Georgians get to work and back home to their families. I
will continue to monitor the situation as drivers become more
accustomed to this new system," Deal said. He said the need for
more access and exit points for the toll lanes also would be
addressed.

SRTA continues to issue, on average, 1,700 Peach Passes a day,
allowing people to use the HOT lanes. As of Thursday, SRTA said
there are 75,000 passes in circulation with a target of 175,000.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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