Updated:ATLANTA,None - State officials say the 50-cent toll paid by many drivers for using Georgia 400 will remain in place for another decade.
The State Road and Tollway Authority, led by Gov. Sonny Perdue, voted on Friday to continue the tolls until 2020 instead of removing them next year. The highway is used by thousands of metro Atlanta commuters each day.
Officials said 20 years ago that the toll would be removed when its bonds were paid off.
SRTA Director Gena Evans and Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, say much has changed in 20 years, including explosive population growth north of Atlanta, the area the highway serves.
Some Atlanta officials say extending the toll is required for much-needed projects, such as finishing the Georgia 400 interchange at Interstate Highway 85.
Channel 2 Action News obtained a list of those 11 projects:
• New ramps that connect GA400 and I-85 so motorists no longer need to travel on local surface streets, saving 4 to 7 minutes of travel time; • Improving the GA400 southbound to I-85 southbound merge so GA400 has a dedicated lane in I-85; • Widening GA400 from McFarland Rd. to SR20 with a third general purpose lane; • Extend the third northbound lane approximately ¾ miles to enhance the transition from the existing four lanes to two lanes near McFarland Rd that extend to SR20 in Forsyth County; • Extend the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Highway Emergency Response Order (HERO) north from McFarland Rd to SR20 by providing video detection and ramp metering to more effectively manage congestion and reduce the impact of incidences along GA400; • Install ITS from Barnwell Rd on SR140/Holcomb Bridge Rd to SR9/Alpharetta Street, utilizing existing Active Traffic Management System devices to optimize costs and coordinate with the existing City of Roswell traffic infrastructure; • Construct a triple left turn lane for the Mansell Road corridor between the GA400 northbound exit ramp (Exit 8) and the North Point Parkway intersection with Mansell Rd to accommodate planned growth from the current 18,650 cars per day to the projected 59,700 cars per day in 2034; • Continue funding the GRTA Xpress service from Forsyth County to the North Springs MARTA rail station near Perimeter Center and direct service to Downtown Atlanta from Cumming; • Reconstruct the ramp from westbound Abernathy to northbound GA400 to allow motorists additional time and distance to merge onto GA400; • Increase capacity and make operational improvements to the three intersections that directly tie into the Northridge Road intersection at GA400, which are Northridge Road at Dunwoody Place, Roberts Drive and Somerset Court, and Roberts Drive and Dunwoody Place, and add a traffic roundabout at Somerset Court to the east; • Initiate Preliminary Engineering (PE) of managed lanes between I-285 and McFarland Road.