by: Lori Geary Updated:
ATLANTA,None - Late Thursday afternoon, Gov. Nathan Deal announced there will be a reduction in the toll rate along the Interstate 85 HOT lanes, starting with the Thursday rush hour night time commute.
The maximum that will be charged for the entire stretch now stands at $3.05 for the next two weeks. That is down from $5.50.
The governor said there also needs to be improvement along the toll lanes.
“Even before the lanes opened, we knew we needed to improve the access and exit points in the southbound direction. SRTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation are working together and I’ve directed them to prioritize this action,” Deal said.
The State Road and Tollway Authority said it is also hearing your calls loud and clear, but a spokeswoman told Channel 2’s Lori Geary if changes are needed to help the traffic situation they won't come for at least a month.
Thursday marked day four of the weekday commute for Georgia's new HOT lanes along Interstate 85 and drivers still had a few choice words about them.
Geary took drivers’ concerns straight to the State Road and Tollway Authority.
Spokeswoman Malika Wilkins told Geary this is what they expected, a slow ramp to using the new HOT lanes.
“We’re definitely getting a lot of feedback,” Wilkins added.
She told Geary there is flexibility and that the agency is in the process of gathering data over the next 4 to 6 weeks.
Channel 2 Action News rolled on hours of video. The story’s the same during rush hour: traffic is backed up on the so-called general use lanes and the toll lanes are virtually empty.
“What the data said in the traffic and revenue study from about three years ago that it would be no discernible impact to the general purpose lanes but we want to update that data,” Wilkins said.
Many carpoolers, who have only two to a vehicle, now have to pay to be in that HOT lane. Last week that same lane was free for them.
Wilkins said commuters have ways to use that express lane for free. They can call the Clean Air Campaign to be matched up with other drivers to expand their car pools to three people. She said bus service is also another option.
In the meantime, SRTA said they will be collecting data to give to Georgia Tech engineers over the next four to six weeks to see if changes are warranted.