GDOT hosts public forum about proposed new HOT lanes

by: Kerry Kavanaugh Updated:

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The Georgia Department of Transportation held a public forum at the Gwinnett Center Thursday night to discuss the option of building a new, optional toll lane.

The current tolls run from Chamblee Tucker Road to Old Peachtree Road. The new section would extend north from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road.

"We know a lot of motorists and commuters experience heavy congestion and delays in that section," said Jill Goldberg with GDOT.

Jane Wise of Duluth went to the public forum to get some answers.

"I'm concerned about the way taxpayer's money is used," Wise told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh. "The public doesn't have an unlimited pocket that you can put your hands in."

Wise said she occasionally uses the existing 16-mile stretch of tolls, but she's concerned about how the project will be paid for.

Wise, like so many drivers have said for years, says it seems like taxpayers are getting hit twice.

"What you do is you use the taxpayers' money to build the lane and then you charge again for the toll for them to use the lane."

Other drivers don't want to see any more toll lanes.

"It's hurting small business. It's putting a lot of hurt on a lot of people," resident Charles McWilliams said.

GDOT said expanding the HOT lanes will cost around $93 million. They say the bulk will come from federal funding. The state will need to match 20 percent in motor-fuel taxes.

This is unlike the existing toll lanes, which received some federal grant money.

The State Road and Tollway Authority numbers show through January 31, the tolls have collected a little more than $5,051,527.

They expected it would take at least three to four years for the existing toll lanes to pay for themselves, operationally.

There will another public forum at the Braselton Police and Municipal Court Building on March 28.

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