COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Drivers in Cobb and Cherokee counties will finally get some relief from traffic after years of waiting.
The northwest corridor express lanes on I-75 and I-575 are finally open.
Channel 2's Berndt Petersen tested them out Saturday. Officials hope that the lanes could significantly shorten commutes -- for anyone who is willing to pay.
Channel 2 Action News has been following the 4-year construction project and this week's preparation of the new toll lanes.
The I-85 'HOT lanes' recently hit an all-time high record of $15.50. But some drivers say they'd be willing to pay hefty prices to avoid the traffic on I-75.
Petersen talked to Shakira Paul, who said every work day the traffic sucks all the fun out of driving.
"It's very frustrating," Paul said. "It almost makes you want to move closer to the city -- or find a different route."
Paul commutes to Atlanta from Cobb County via I-75, one of the metro area's most congested highways. But this weekend, the 30 miles worth of new, reversible toll lanes opened to give drivers a different option. You'll need a Peach Pass to ride on the toll road, but Cobb resident Nicole Ross said she thinks drivers will pony up.
"I think they would pay it, even if it's expensive, not to be in the traffic," Ross said.
The new lanes are designed to offer relief for about 200,000 drivers inside of a corridor within Cobb and Cherokee counties.
Triple Team Traffic reported the lanes open just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning. The lanes will be traveling southbound through the weekend:
NW Express Lanes are OPEN! Facts:— Ashley Frasca (@AshleyFrascaWSB) September 8, 2018
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The northwest corridor express lanes are part of an $834 million project that includes wider shoulders along the 30 miles of road, which is expected to help clear accidents more quickly.
"This is a choice. Some people might choose to use it very day. Some people might choose to use it when they're late for a soccer game," Natalie Dale with the Georgia Department of Transportation said.
There's no maximum toll price but the price gets higher when the traffic is worse. However, for the first two weeks, drivers with the Peach Pass can ride the toll lanes for free.
Officials say commute times could be cut by as much as one-third, which is what drivers like Paul want to hear.
"Because time is money," Paul said. "If I can shave 45 minutes to an hour off my day, that's worth it to me."
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