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11-15-04 State Looking To Tolls to Help Atlanta Gridlock

The projects will involve setting up tolls in HOV lanes on several interstate highways in the Atlanta area to charge solo motorists willing to pay for the privilege of driving in less traffic when the regular lanes are clogged.

AVOC

 

November 14, 2004

 

HOV Lanes Sometimes Need More Traffic

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

The problem with this is that the HOV lanes start stacking now as you approach Atlanta.  At  least this is a new idea.

 

All agencies of county, regional and state government must do something to improve traffic flow in Atlanta.  Too often, during rush hour, the Interstates are just giant parking lots.


The Newton Citizen Online

                        http://www.newtoncitizen.net/

 

State to experiment with congestion tolls

By Dave Williams

LAWRENCEVILLE — Several state and regional transportation agencies have won federal grants to test a concept aimed at getting more bang for the buck out of high-occupancy vehicle lanes.


The Georgia Department of Transportation, State Road and Tollway Authority and Georgia Regional Transportation Authority will be using two grants totaling about $.6 million to conduct demonstration projects in congestion pricing.


The projects will involve setting up tolls in HOV lanes on several interstate highways in the Atlanta area to charge solo motorists willing to pay for the privilege of driving in less traffic when the regular lanes are clogged.


“People look at it as ‘Lexus lanes’ — only the rich will use it,” said Benita Dodd, vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a non-partisan research and education organization that advocates private-sector solutions to issues facing government.


“But wherever it’s been implemented around the country, it’s used across the board, the plumber, the mom rushing to pick up her kids. It’s not an elitist thing.”


The larger of the two grants, about $.2 million, will go toward a project to be spearheaded by researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology, working with the DOT. Its purpose is to explore the feasibility of congestion pricing on several interstates connecting Atlanta and its suburbs.


The second grant, for $00,000, is aimed specifically at plans to extend the HOV lanes along I-75, which currently stop just short of I-285, all the way north to Wade Green Road in northern Cobb County.


Dan Drake, director of policy and programming at the SRTA, said the project will include technology allowing the tolls to vary depending not only on the time of day but on the amount of traffic.


Congestion pricing is designed to lure solo drivers out of the regular lanes along interstates into HOV lanes, easing traffic flow by spreading out vehicles more evenly.


Since smoother traffic flow means less air pollution from exhausts, the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club supports congestion pricing in         concept.


But Bryan Hager, the state chapter’s director, said he’s concerned that, instead of using existing HOV lanes, congestion pricing will mean building additional lanes of highway and lining the pockets of engineers and construction contractors.


“All you do building more highways is enable dramatically more driving, increasing demand in the future,” he said. “The time savings you get for a little while after never makes up for the time lost during construction.”


But Drake said the I-75 HOV project will be built with two additional lanes, with or without congestion pricing.


He also noted that the Atlanta area fared particularly well in the competition for the federal grants. While California, Texas, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington   state also were awarded portions of the $ million pot, Georgia’s share came to about 20 percent.


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