by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga.,None —
A Gwinnett County man says data provided by the state of Georgia proves the new toll lanes are having a negative impact on the rest of traffic on Interstate 85.
"What I am seeing a distinct shift in the pattern of traffic where people are commuting and when they're commuting," Gwinnett commuter Chris Haley said.
Haley told Channel 2’s Kerry Kavanaugh his commute time doubled when new toll lanes opened but when he saw some improvement he wanted to know why, so he looked for data on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s website.
"I was able to pull two 3-week periods of time from September and October on travel between I-85 and state road 120,” Haley said.
When comparing traffic volume before the High Occupancy Toll lanes existed and after they opened Haley says he found traffic volume in the morning and afternoon rush hours is down an average of 10 percent.
"I attribute that more to the fact that people are altering their schedules to avoid congestion in the peak periods,” he said.
Kavanaugh emailed his findings to the State Road and Tollway Authority and was told officials would need time to study Haley's numbers – then they sent Channel 2 Action News their own numbers. State officials compared this October to last October and came up with similar results, agreeing that traffic volume is down during peak rush hours but they did not say why. A spokesman told Kavanaugh over the phone, it could be people taking side streets or overall traffic patterns are shifting.
Haley believes commuters have been forced to change their routines to adjust congestion the hot lanes created.
“It's definitely an inconvenience," Haley said.
The tollway authority told Kavanaugh they are working with Georgia Tech to study overall traffic flow since the launch of the HOT lanes and they are also going to have a third party review the data. They hope to have the results in a few weeks.