The Georgia Department of Transportation has bought an expensive sports car. The seller uttered the words “Toll Road” and GDOT was deafened by ka-ching, ka-ching! It happened in Henry County.
Some time ago there were whispers of a report for reversible lanes to be built in the I-75 median of a portion of Henry County. There were also a few reports of sightings of a sign referring to this. Between then and now, silence - at least as far as active communication with the general public. On April 23 and 25, GDOT held public information meetings to proudly display their solution to the problem of morning and afternoon/evening traffic congestion between Ga. 138 and Ga. 155, a distance of about 12 miles. I live in Henry County and heard only that week, by word of mouth, about the meetings.
Today I made an unusual trip on that section of road. At the entrance and exit points I did see some signs but they certainly were not readable. Because of the project, my assumption is they were related. How about radio announcements during drive time?
Anyone who travels that section understands that the biggest contributor to the congestion is GDOT itself. It has limited truck traffic to the two right lanes. Cars, which travel faster than trucks, need to enter/exit I-75 to the right. There are six entry/exit points between the first and last on this 12-mile stretch. Entering drivers must merge through two lanes of trucks to reach car through-lanes. Exiting drivers start moving to the right, looking for an opening between cars and then trucks to move over, lane by lane to their exit. Truckers, knowing reality, proceed as cautiously as possible. The combined result is slowdown called congestion.
GDOT’s solution is the reversible toll lanes. But what an expensive, ineffective solution it is. The lanes would only be used during what are designated as rush hours in the morning and afternoon/evening and remain idle the rest of the time. Yes, closed. Between the rush hours, the roads would be patrolled to assure everyone has exited, a process expected to take about two hours. The lanes can be accessed at Ga. 138, Jonesboro Rd, Ga. 20/81 and Ga. 155. There are no gates, only signs about the times of use. The Jonesboro Road connection appears to require lengthy flyover ramps. The variable toll collection would be by transponder such as a pre-paid Peach Pass (a loan to the government, use it or lose it) or video tolling which bills a user after the fact. What is the cost and success rate of this?
Other than doing nothing, the only alternatives GDOT proposed included tolls. Ka-ching ka-ching! But there is another solution.
In the median, add the two lanes, one in each direction, restricted to semis and similar that are passing through, no intention of exiting between Ga. 138 and Ga. 155. The next right lane would be for trucks and similar vehicles that will move over to exit along the route. It would be shared with car drivers who so choose. That leaves the remaining lanes available for cars to travel, enter, and exit without interfering with or being interfered by a steady stream of trucks. The GDOT plan does nothing to relieve the current merging madness. It only offers a pay-for alternative to escape the unresolved merging madness. How many decades will it take to recover the costs of the GDOT plan? Cost efficiency lies with declining the expensive sports car and buying an economical sedan.
I’m a senior citizen who hopes there is a lawyer, politician or person of influence who will have this revisited.