10/16: A HOT flash in the pan?

The AJC Editorial Board

Are HOT lanes a flash in the pan? Let’s hope not. While it’s understandable that metro Atlantans resent a no-gridlock toll on a road they’ve already paid for, HOT lanes have proved their worth in other states. Georgia shouldn’t exit, Andre Jackson writes for The AJC Editorial Board.

Gov. Nathan Deal writes that “while I share the frustration of commuters regarding our early experience with HOT lanes, we are all frustrated when we miss a business appointment or a child’s baseball game because roads are jammed. I am focused on reducing congestion in order to get Georgians moving.”

And the Rome News-Tribune weighs in on the HOT lanes, too.

Read the full accounts of what they have to say and comment.

41 comments Add your comment

Pizza

October 15th, 2011
9:03 pm

This is not about moving traffic and reducing congestion, the goal is to get a few elite commuters to where they are going fast. The other 99% should be down at Woodruff Park !

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
6:44 pm

From Andre Jackson for The AJC Editorial Board:

“We’d expect trucking firms, for example, that move traffic through Georgia by the ton would be happy to pay a sizable toll to access a far-OTP beltway and escape Atlanta’s traffic crawl.”

The Outer Perimeter was pretty much proven NOT to be a politically-viable or politically-acceptable transportation option when voters rejected the concept wholesale by voting the Democrat governor and party who backed it out of power in 2002 after 140 years in total control of state politics.

Lots of land spectulators and developers may like to see the Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc concept resurrected, but there are many more other poltically well-connected people who own land that would be in the path of either the same or a new route of that road that would not take too kindly to having a toll road run through their property and I’m pretty sure that GOP bigwigs would get an earful about it if they even thought about resurrecting that unpopular road such as is the case right now about a connector GDOT has proposed to run between I-75 and US 411 in Bartow County that would run directly through some mountain ranges and the land of some very influential people in the Georgia GOP.

Now if the Georgia Republican Party made the same mistake of backing a new Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc through Bartow and very-affluent Cherokee and Forsyth Counties and continued to back this misguided and unpopular concept of HOT lanes on all North Georgia freeways, the Georgia GOP would likely suffer the same or a similar fate as their Democrat precessors.

The fact is that the Outer Perimeter and, ESPECIALLY, the Northern Arc are very much politically-unviable, unacceptable and unpopular and would become a HUGE political liability for any politician foolish enough to back it.

The Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc is politically dead and is not coming back and it is a huge waste-of-time and energy to focus on it as a viable solution to pull interstate traffic off of gridlocked local interstates and freeways.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
6:10 pm

Keshawnfondriquia

October 15th, 2011
12:13 pm

““Gov. Nathan Deal writes that “while I share the frustration of commuters…”…..Right. Somehow I doubt that. Gov. Deal and his chauffeured limousine travel I-85 North all that frequently. And who cares that the Rome News-Tribune thinks HOT lanes are wonderful, it’s not like your average Roman travels 85 North every day either.”

Actually, Governor Deal is from Hall County and has to travel through that section of Interstate 85 in DeKalb and Gwinnett Counties to get between his home and the State Capitol which might have been the reason that he responded as soon as he did to public anger over the massive gridlock caused by the bungled implementation of HOT lanes.

Although, I don’t doubt that when Governor Deal travels back-and-forth between Hall County on I-85 in DeKalb and Gwinnett that he is driven in a chauffeured government vehicle (think SUV, not limo) that of course uses the HOT lane and is able to bypass everyone else on the road that is stuck in traffic.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
5:57 pm

Not a fair tax

October 15th, 2011
3:35 pm

“Why are Gwinnette residents being taxed to drive on roads that are already paid for?”

Because as far as the state is concerned, Gwinnett residents are nothing more than guinea pigs in their wrong-headed “experiment” to see how their warped and misguided version of the HOT lane concept would affect commuters in the Northeast Corridor on an everyday basis.

If the state wanted to “experiment” with the HOT lane concept then they should have ADDED at least a couple of extra lanes to the road and put tolls on them instead of taking a lane of traffic off of one of the busiest roads on the continent and inconsiderately wreaking havoc on peoples’ lives.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
5:47 pm

From Andre Jackson for The AJC Editorial Board:

“Properly executed toll lanes and roads can be an important part of metro Atlanta’s multimodal transportation plan, but only where fees support new lanes that truly add capacity.”

That statement is very true with an emphasis on MULTIMODAL transportation plan. A big item that is missing from all of these discussions about the state’s dogged determination to invest in a regionwide network of HOT lanes is COMMUTER RAIL.

Investing heavily in HOT lanes alone as a supposed way to “reduce congestion” is a very risky proposition as the lanes alone will not help to reduce congestion and may even help to INCREASE congestion if an existing HOV lane is converted to a HOT lane as we saw on the Northeast I-85 Corridor last week in Gwinnett and DeKalb Counties.

The state’s proposal to sink $16 BILLION into a metrowide and regionwide network of HOT lanes and the somewhat misguided approach of converting HOV-2 lanes to HOT/HOV-3 lanes seems to be the state’s only idea to “attempt” to reduce congestion with no consideration to commuter rail as part of a potential solution to make major roads more passable for locals and travelers alike.

“That’s the real lesson from the Atlanta HOT lane rebellion.”

A lesson that may be reflected in a continuing and increasing wholesale rejection of the HOT lane concept in Georgia and a wholesale rejection of the upcoming T-SPLOST referendum in July 2012 as mistrust and lack of confidence in government to competently do the right thing to address Georgia’s mobility challenges is at an all-time high and looks to be increasing.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
5:09 pm

From Andre Jackson for The AJC Editorial Board:

“With proper planning and sound thinking, we should too. We’d expect trucking firms, for example, that move traffic through Georgia by the ton would be happy to pay a sizable toll to access a far-OTP beltway and escape Atlanta’s traffic crawl.”

Proper planning and sound thinking? In Georgia? Please, don’t make me laugh!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!

OMG!!!! Proper planning and sound thinking by the State of Georgia!? [Pause typing for hysterical laughs]

We’re talking about the same state government that was headed by a governor who, while the state roads were filling up with gridlock and our lakes were running out of water supply, “wisely” decided to invest in horse museums and boat ramps to go fishing in dry lakes while simultaneously slashing education funding with “austerity cuts” in a good economy.

We’re also talking about a state government whose governor ran off and hid on the other side of the world for two months when his state ran almost completely out of gas.

Yet still we’re also talking about a state government whose Department of Transportation once lost $430 million in a filing cabinet and whose commissioner once ran away from news cameras when faced with the simple question of “What is the DOT doing to clear the roads of snow and ice?”

Not-to-mention, we’re also talking about a state government that not to just days ago tried to “improve” traffic on one of the world’s busiest highways by taking away a lane of traffic and then attempting to charge very angry motorists stuck in the resulting traffic jams for the “privilege” of riding in a “traffic-free” lane (created by causing massive traffic jams in the other lanes) that they had already paid for with taxes for a very pricey toll.

Yeah….proper planning and sound thinking, from this state government….What a LAFFER!!!!

Seriously, you guys REALLY should be on the comedy circuit….

Jack

October 15th, 2011
4:37 pm

HOT lanes are not a problem for me. I just skip that last cup of hot coffee and leave home a little earlier and drive in the slow lanes. No big deal.

MM

October 15th, 2011
3:41 pm

As the state searches by trial-and-error price that enough folks will pay for a HOT lane ride, here’s an additional thought. The true cost of the HOT lane is not $60M but has to be calculated to include the wait time for all those in the non-HOT lanes. This must be accounted for or you’re conveniently telling part of the story. Let’s see: a hundred thousand people delayed by an additional 40 minutes per day (2-way) times a $8-$20 per hour charge for waiting plus the additional gasoline, wear-and-tear on the car, and a charge for the additional pollution for idleing cars. I haven’t estimated this cost but it’s at least over a hundred thousand per commute cycle.

Now here’s the trick: add this to the cost charged to the HOT lane riders. This cost is way bigger than some paint, tech upgrades, and a few new state patrolmen. No wonder we are not provided with the true cost of the HOT lanes. If this real cost of lane provision were charged no one would ride in the damn things! Another instance of a wealth transfer from the middle class to the “rich guy.” Class warfare of the standard USA variety–poor to rich!

While I’m at it to compute a true cost of the HOT lane we should include the fact that taxpayers already paid for the HOT lanes on I-85 as a standard lane years ago. There’s no reason that the non-HOT lane folks, and taxpayers generally, cannot be repaid for their previous investment by adding an addition fee onto the HOT lane charge. (Payback is a bitch.)I have not computed this but it’s bound to add another couple dollars to the HOT lane charge.

What does all this mean? An accurate charge for the HOT lanes goes way beyond paying the $60M that’s so widely discussed in the press. If the true cost was disclosed there would be a riot out on the superslab. Why hasn’t the Atlanta press led the charge in the spirit of true journalism to inform the public that the accurate cost of a rush hour HOT lane trip would be well over $10, maybe $20 and that the non-HOT lane driver is subsidizing (or to use the word business people don’t like to use–socializing) the “rich guy” lanes. If the wealth transfer mechanism disguised as a road as we have on I-85 spreads to full metro area then the true cost to taxpayers will be staggering. The folks that are doing this have balls of sheer brass!

Not a fair tax

October 15th, 2011
3:35 pm

Why are Gwinnette residents being taxed to drive on roads that are already paid for?

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 15th, 2011
1:49 pm

oldfart

October 15th, 2011
1:11 pm

I couldn’t have said it any better, Brother.