COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Monday was the first morning with new express lanes that were designed to transform the commute in Cobb and Cherokee counties.
The northwest corridor express lanes on I-75 and I-575 opened over the weekend after years of construction and drivers' anticipation.
Channel 2's Audrey Washington was on the express lanes Monday morning, and experienced how much faster she and a Channel 2 Action News photographer were able to get around metro Atlanta.
Meanwhile, Channel 2's Steve Gehlbach was in the regular lanes where he experienced the usual morning delays.
NW Express Lanes are OPEN! Facts:— Ashley Frasca (@AshleyFrascaWSB) September 8, 2018
-Must have @PeachPassGA
-2 lanes wide except along 575 & on 75 from I-575 through Kennesaw
-Has the longest land bridge in GA, 1.3 miles
-Highest altitude appx 105 ft high, at 75 & 285
-50 jurisdictions involved in the safety training #ATLtraffic pic.twitter.com/Xb0YYyJ3Iv
Channel 2 Action News has been following the four-year construction project and last week's preparation of the new toll lanes.
The toll on the I-85 "HOT lanes" recently hit an all-time record of $15.50.
But some drivers say they would be willing to pay more to avoid the traffic on I-75.
On Monday evening, Channel 2 Action News has two crews drive north along I-75 and I-575 starting at the same time from the perimeter. Channel 2's Christian Jennings drove the express lanes and it was an obvious advantage.
Driver Stephanie George told Jennings her drive to work was 10 minutes shorter than usual because she took the new I-75 express lane.
"Atlanta traffic is not fun to sit in every day morning and evening so I’m glad we have a new solution for it," she said.
"On Saturday, we saw over 5,500 trips. On Sunday, about 6,000 trips and as of this (Monday) morning, early numbers indicate about 5000 trips that took place this morning," said Chris Tomlinson, the executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority.
He said requests for peach passes have tripled over the past week. Drivers have to have a peach pass to use the new lanes.
"I think as people get more used to these lanes we’re going to see how much volume they can really handle," said WSB traffic expert Doug Turnbull.
For the first two weeks, using the new system is free. Express lanes are open southbound into Atlanta in the mornings and away from the city northbound in the afternoons.
Turnbull said from the Skycopter, he never saw the lanes get below the speed limit.
The first morning of these express lanes on 75 and 575 maybe not the truest test. There were some issues on 575 back in Holly Springs that kind of made everything lighter than normal," he said.
If you have questions about the new express lanes, click here.
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