Nathan Deal gives Ga. 400 tolls a place in GOP race for governor

One day after a Survey USA poll showed him in a virtual tie with Karen Handel for a runoff berth in the GOP race for governor, former congressman Nathan Deal has begun touting a small but significant geographic difference between the two.

This from a just-issued Deal press release:

Nathan Deal, a leading Republican candidate for governor, said today he’ll move quickly as governor to bring down the Georgia 400 toll before the end of 2011.

“As governor, I’ll swing the sledgehammer to bring down the Buckhead Wall,” Deal said Tuesday. “The state has collected more than enough money to pay the bonds for the highway. We are now using the tolls of Georgia 400 drivers to pay for other road projects. That’s not fair to the commuters in north Fulton and Forsyth counties. They’ve carried more than their fair share.”

Back in 2003, Gov. Sonny Perdue vetoed legislation to restrict the use of toll revenue to expenses directly related to the road traveled. His predecessor, Roy Barnes, had raised eyebrows when he directed some Georgia 400 toll money to the new Atlantic Station development.

Ending the tolls on Georgia 400 had originally been a cause espoused by state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton. But he dropped out of the Republican race for governor to run against U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Macon).

On June 12, my AJC colleague Ariel Hart wrote a piece on where candidates for governor stood on specific transportation issues. Here’s her quick assessment of the governor’s race and the future of tolls on Georgia 400:

Opposition to building Ga. 400 in Buckhead was eased by promises to use the revenue only for Ga. 400 and to take down the tolls after the road is paid off in summer 2011. But faced with the stream of quarters, and burgeoning needs, some state leaders went soft. Leave them up after payoff?

Read the complete story.

23 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

June 22nd, 2010
4:42 pm

Keep the toll on and fund the construction of the connection of SR 400 to/from I 85 North. Duh!


June 22nd, 2010
5:09 pm

Why take them down when the road comes to a standstill every morning and afternoon. In addition to the ramps at I-85, a revamped 285/400 interchange was just recently projected to cost hundreds of millions…. hmmm…. where could that money possibly come from???


June 22nd, 2010
6:39 pm

Deal is a crook.


June 22nd, 2010
6:44 pm

Is he also promising to make water feel wet, have ducks say “quack quack”, and make the sun come up in the morning? The tolls are already scheduled to come off the road in 2011. What kind of promise is it to take a toll off a road that is already scheduled to have the toll taken off?

Yes, in theory the Governor and the SRTA Board might be able to keep the toll in place after the scheduled date but it would be political suicide to do so. It’s just an empty promise that means absolutely nothing.


June 22nd, 2010
7:58 pm

Can the 67 year old Deal even lift a sledge hammer? He’s looking pretty tired on the campaign trail

Logic 05

June 22nd, 2010
8:11 pm

Either of these two would be better than that moron King Rat Roy Barnes.

PLEASE ANYBODY BUT BARNES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rev Al Sharpton

June 22nd, 2010
8:12 pm

Roy Barnes makes me look like a man of ethics.


June 22nd, 2010
10:23 pm

Great! He gets my vote. This is a tax on the north side of ATL. Unfair. The road was paved for years ago, and the deal was to only have the toll until it was paid for.


June 23rd, 2010
6:47 am

Yeh! Those people who owe large bills for unpaid tolls will now vote for Nathan Deal.

Pander and pavement

June 23rd, 2010
7:05 am

Matt & Road Scholar are correct. Finish the NECESSARY improvements to GA-400. Right now the DOT is busy fixing the 400-285 interchange (thank goodness). When the economy recovers, we’ll need more improvements.

Also, shouldn’t the Marta line that currently ends at North Springs be extended to…oh, maybe Dawsonville?

And why is it that our mass transit system is the only one in the nation that doesn’t receive funding from the state?


June 23rd, 2010
8:13 am

Georgia is far behind other states when it comes to transportation. It was a mistake to not extend the MARTA (white people did not want black people in their neighborhoods which is why MARTA was not extended) to the outer suburbs and it will be a mistake to take down a toll road ($0.50 each way) that is a small price to pay to live in a civilized society. Georgia’s Wall Street Bond Rating is “junk” and the state is on the brink of total bankruptcy. I hope our children will not repeat the sins of their father’s and continue of this road of no return.

Real Deal Steal

June 23rd, 2010
8:25 am

Just saw this. Deal wants you to SPEND MORE TIME in TRAFFIC.

A study shows that if the toll is removed “total daily [traffic] volume increases by 18.2 percent, dramatically reducing travel speeds to as low as 16 miles per hour and adding as much as 9 minutes to travel between I-85 and I-285 via GA 400.”

We don’t need career DC politicians running Georgia.


June 23rd, 2010
8:31 am

If the toll stays, ALL work must be in the Ga400 corridor. The G400 to 85 connection should be a priority. Adding lanes from McFarland to GA 20 should be a priority. Improving the GA400/285 interchange should be a priority. There is a definite need , and the money would be spent on the people who actually pay the toll. If the money is used for ANY other purpose, then the toll booths should come down.


June 23rd, 2010
8:43 am

Why would any Gov. candidate continue to support stealing money from GA 400 drivers? I can’t even believe Roy Barnes is running for Gov. after losing in the past, partly due to his diversion of GA 400 funds. Democrat Sheeple.

Let’s hope Republicans keep voting for strong female candidates. Karen Handle is our chance for change from the good ol’ southern boys running GA.


June 23rd, 2010
8:51 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.


June 23rd, 2010
9:15 am

Robert wrote: “Georgia’s Wall Street Bond Rating is “junk” and the state is on the brink of total bankruptcy. ”

What a pile of BS. Georgia’s Wall street bond rating is one of the best in the nation (AAA, one of ten states with this rating,, and Georgia’s budget has diligently attempted to stay in the black. Georgia is NOT on the brink of bankruptcy. According to,”the 2nd LEAST Debt-Ridden State: Georgia. Based on the 2008 numbers, Georgia’s debt per capita is among the lowest in the country”

So your statement, Robert, is so utterly wrong as to make any other budgetary comment/suggestion laughable.


June 23rd, 2010
9:31 am

No, my friend, you are mistaken. The only local governments in the state of Georgia that have “AAA” bond ratings are Alpharetta and Roswell. Georgia is in bad shape as a whole.

Saul Good

June 23rd, 2010
10:08 am

Real Deal Steal said: “We don’t need career DC politicians running Georgia.”

Of course we don’t… the “career Georgia politicians” have done such a great job over the past 7 years. Still near the bottom of the barrel (when compared to the rest of the nation) in education, still have horrible traffic and nothing going on to expand mass transit (like most “world class cities”), still have many out of work and nothing being done here at HOME to create jobs, and still have corrupt politicians running for the highest office in the state. Yes…the future looks BRIGHT for the state of GA!

BTW…that “Study” you referenced…might just be one of the most flawed studies ever to be done on traffic patterns. Nice spin!


June 23rd, 2010
11:50 am

How about using the money to properly connect 400 to I-85 once and for all? Exiting at Sidney Marcus to connect to 85N or exiting at Cheshire Bridge to connect to 400N is incredibly inefficient.

Real Deal Steal

June 23rd, 2010
1:30 pm

Saul good,
I agree with you. That why we need Karen Handel for Governor.


June 23rd, 2010
1:36 pm

The Tolls should go to repair and maintenance of Ga 400. It’s not as if when the bonds are paid there is suddenly no cost associated with the road. Of course, it would kill us all, I’m sure, if we had some sort of actual world class public transportation system, not the poor, mildly useless mess that is MARTA. But that word “public” just enrages a certain segment and they lose all ability to reason like normal people, so I don’t know that we’ll ever get to move beyond grid-locked car-dependent traffic-strangled 2nd Class City to a real World Class City.


June 23rd, 2010
4:39 pm

Robert wrote: “No, my friend, you are mistaken. The only local governments in the state of Georgia that have “AAA” bond ratings are Alpharetta and Roswell. Georgia is in bad shape as a whole.”

While I appreciate your politeness, provide PROOF or shut up!. I provided proof, and there is a heck of a lot more than just the links I provided, that show that Georgia is fiscally responsible compared to 40 out of 50 other states. Now there may be municipalities in Georgia that aren’t doing so great, but the State is doing fine.

One of the segments

June 23rd, 2010
4:49 pm

Nikki wrote: “But that word “public” just enrages a certain segment”

Which segments would that refer to, Nikki? Cobb has it’s own PUBLIC transit system. Gwinnett, while not having it’s own transit, is no longer predominantly Caucasian and can no longer be accused for the reasons that they were in the past. It is not the “public” that enrages people, it is not wanting to get involved in the politics of of the mismanagement that is MARTA. Similar to the issues that caused north Fulton to incorporate into cities, the northern counties do not want a north/south fight every time they want a new bus line in the north or want to do away with an underused bus line in south. It is easier to not get involved than it is to be accused as a racist every time you want to do something that makes business sense.