by: Lori Geary Updated:ATLANTA,None —
Gov. Nathan Deal says there is a new plan tonight to put more cars in the controversial toll lanes along Interstate 85, with "no cost or a very low cost associated with it."
The governor revealed his plan to Channel 2's Lori Geary, in which he made it clear he did not approve the HOT lanes on I-85, but is trying to help frustrated drivers affected by them.
Just this week, Geary learned Deal asked the feds for yet another waiver, which could pave the way for some drivers to use the HOT lanes for free. The request has been submitted to the Federal Highway Department.
Geary sat down with Deal Friday for a preview of the 2012 legislative session, but learned this week he's still trying to resolve the controversies surrounding the I-85 HOT lanes.
Those lanes are toll lanes unless there are three or more people in the vehicle.
The federal government denied the governor's first request to allow two or more people to ride for free. So now, Deal is asking the feds to give him the power to allow three-passenger vehicles during non-peak hours to ride in it for free or at really reduced rates.
"Which would induce people to use the lanes, because it would either have no cost or a very low cost associated with it," Deal said.
When it's not rush hour, most times the normal lanes are flowing, so the HOT lanes sit empty because drivers are still charged to use them.
Deal said he's just received new numbers that show during high traffic times, the HOT lanes are serving their purpose.
The number of cars in the HOT lanes are averaging 2,000 an hour. That's on target and sometimes exceeding the number of vehicles that used to use the lanes when they were HOV lanes.
"The primary purpose of HOT lanes was to alleviate the traffic congestion during the peak times during the morning and afternoon," Deal said.
Geary asked Deal when he expects to hear an answer from the feds and he said he has no idea.
But again, he submitted this latest request this week.