ATLANTA - Gov. Nathan Deal announced Thursday he will remove the Georgia 400 toll barrier by the end of 2013.
The 50-cent toll is paid by thousands of commuters every day but has been the subject of controversy lately as residents rallied for its removal.
The State Road and Tollway Authority voted two years ago to extend the toll through 2020 to provide funding for a list of nearly a dozen projects. The toll was originally scheduled to end a 20-year run in 2011.
“Ga. 400 commuters have paid more than their fair share already, and this is the earliest we can bring it down without paying a penalty for early repayment of the bonds,” Deal said. "We think it should convey to the public that government can be trusted, and we recognize the impact of transportation and the importance of public confidence with projects of this magnitude."
Deal said the state must leave the toll up long enough to pay for $40 million in bonds issued in 2010. The bonds mature in 2017, but the state can pay the bonds off without penalty after three years.
State Sen. John Albers, a Republican who represents portions of north Fulton County, quickly applauded the move.
"A promise made is a promise kept. I look forward to bringing my sledgehammer down on Dec. 1, 2013, to remove these tolls for good,” said Albers.
The State Road and Tollway Authority has to give final approve to the governor's plan.