Nathan Deal on Ga. 400 toll: ‘Georgians will support new tolls only if we keep promises’

The State Road and Tollway Authority, led by Gov. Sonny Perdue, on Friday voted to continue the Ga. 400 tolls until 2020, reports my AJC colleague Ariel Hart.

The decision will no doubt have an impact on political campaigns up and down the ticket, beginning with the governor’s contest.

The first word from the campaign of Republican Nathan Deal expresses his disagreement with the decision, but includes no criticism of Gov. Sonny Perdue — not even a mention:

“Ga. 400 commuters are also taxpayers like all other drivers in our state, and I don’t think it’s fair to continue to single them out for this daily fee,” Deal said. “It’s certainly true that this corridor has undergone explosive growth in the past 20 years , but so have many other corridors in the metro Atlanta area.

“In these tight budget times, we must consider all options for improving mobility in metro Atlanta and throughout the rest of the state. Tolls will play a role in how we fund needed expansions in highway capacity. Georgians will only support that option if we keep our promises. The state said it would end the tolls when the bonds were paid. I said this summer that the tolls should end when the bonds are paid off next year, and I believe that would have been the best path to take.”

At his press conference following action on the Ga. 400 toll, Perdue likewise stepped carefully around Deal and other GOP candidates now in the field:

“While it’s easy to be a political populist and say ‘broken promises, no trust’ – I understand all that. I am absolutely doing and asking our authority to do what I believe is in the best interest of our state and metro Atlanta.”

Asked about Deal’s opposition to an extension of the Ga. 400 toll, the governor responded with a jest:

“Isn’t that great about America? I said, ‘Nathan, we may disagree on this, but I sure hope you get elected. We can’t afford that other guy.”

Perdue was asked – and ducked — a first question about Deal’s finances. But he weighed in when asked if the former congressman – who faces repayment of a $2.3 million loan by February – would be too distracted to do his job:

“Nathan Deal is a focused individual. He’s [been] an attorney, prosecutor, a congressman for 18 years. You better not get in a room and doubt Nathan Deal’s intellect and his ability to focus and concentrate, or you’re going to be on the short side of any kind of discussion.

“He is smart, he’s able, he’s competent. And while all of us like for everything we do to succeed, sometimes we have family members – and that’s not possible. And the fact is, I can see myself having done the same thing. I know what this job entails. I know the focus – people get 20 hours a day and I get four.”

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93 comments Add your comment

MikeyD

September 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

News Flash: sonny perdue is a liar. Does this shock anyone at all?

catlady

September 24th, 2010
12:12 pm

Guessing Nathan sees a way to make a few quick bucks!

NO DEAL

September 24th, 2010
12:14 pm

Poeple, I know we are all upset at the poltical scene right now, but PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not vote for a lying, thieving, corrupt candidate like NODeal. He will only drag our state down with him. At least Roy Barnes is interested in governing Georgia, NODeal is only interested in getting into position to get his hands on some more of the state’s money. NO DEAL NO DEAL NO DEAL!!!!

Cutty

September 24th, 2010
12:14 pm

Not that hard to oppose a decision that you didn’t have to make. He doesn’t sound too upset w the choice so one can only think that he’d be on favor of it if Deal had anything to say.

DagnyT

September 24th, 2010
12:16 pm

Georgia lawmakers are no better than the fools in Congress. Lies, lies and more lies. This is smelling like the health care bill. We don’t want it, but shove it down our throats anyway. Vote NO this November and in 2012 when asked if you want to tax yourself.

Retired Soldier

September 24th, 2010
12:16 pm

Catlady-

You mean like Barnes wanted to make a quick buck on the Northern Arc?

Ouraged

September 24th, 2010
12:17 pm

Can we get the names of all people involved in this decision? I wish to put them at the top of my list of people to NEVER EVER vote for again.
You make a promise you keep it! Don’t be making excuses like a 5 year old.

PMC

September 24th, 2010
12:18 pm

Meh, The only way to keep politicians trustworthy is to repeatedly booth them out of office.

No one… NOT ONE Politician in gives a flip about any voter or anyone’s plight. If it’s “public service” why do so many make a lucrative career out of it?

It’s about power and control. Not creating a governmental system of by and for the people.

You can’t believe these people on faith. Their word is mud. It always has been, it always will be.

They waste billions every year trying to convince people that One Canidate is better than another.

They are all bad people. The only recourse is to change out each jerk every chance we get.

The less amount of time a person is in office the less amount of time they will be able to build on the corruption that led them to public office in the first place.

PMC

September 24th, 2010
12:20 pm

Don’t vote for Deal… Don’t Vote for Barnes.

Put that fantastic canidate NONE OF THE ABOVE into office.

PMC

September 24th, 2010
12:21 pm

There is not a qualifed canidate in Georgia to wield the power of a governor.

whiterabbit

September 24th, 2010
12:26 pm

I guess Nathan is hoping for a little grift on the side. He will put his own family members in the toll booths if he can and I am sure any “laying of conrete” will be done by his biggest campaign contributor.

TruthBe

September 24th, 2010
12:31 pm

LIAR LIAR PANTS ON FIRE.

fildawg

September 24th, 2010
12:38 pm

There is one! John Monds – http://www.votemonds.com

Jerry Mandering

September 24th, 2010
12:41 pm

Nobody gets a second term. Steal all you can the first time. Ol’ Roy has had his time in the Governor’s masion and now all that’s left is Nathan. How does Georgia end up with these two clowns? Nathan will have the watchdogs all over him so he may be the best choice. Roy is lawyer smart and will do what he wants anyway as evidenced by his last term. I may go fishing on election day.

Veteran Observer

September 24th, 2010
12:43 pm

When Roybama was the governor it was discovered that he was illegally diverting the tolls to a slush fund that he was doling out to other uses! He was forced to back off and allow these monies to be spent on related transportation uses! That is why he is silent on this matter!

Red

September 24th, 2010
12:44 pm

Wow. Conservatives who advocate government going beyond its mandate and taking even more money from the taxpayers beyond what was promised. Upkeep as an excuse? I’m sure when the original promise was made those saying that realized the road would need to be paved a few times after expiration.

I remember back in 2002 Bob Irvin pushed hard to have these expire as originally promised. Amazing that among conservatives, people like Irvin are not in office and people like Perdue are. Real conservatives are pushed to the side and RINO’s get shoved down our throats. At least liberals are honest when they take our money and grow government.

Big Fan of Gena's

September 24th, 2010
12:47 pm

Does it surprise anyone that Gena Evans was part of this? She lied the whole time while she was in charge at the GADOT and ran it into the ground. She was Sonny’s lapdog then and she is still Sonny’s lapdog today. Would someone please tell me why she is still employed by the State of Georgia? I know she is appointed by the Gov but please enough is enough. Wonder where she will be working after the election. Maybe at Sonny’s vet business picking up the manure for him then.

MK

September 24th, 2010
12:48 pm

Wow party of small government and less government intrusion? What a crock. Time for people to wise up that Republicans are liars whose actions speak louder than their words. Time to throw the liars out on their ass.

When Hell Freezes Over

September 24th, 2010
12:53 pm

I looked through the contributors to Barnes’ campaign last night. It was pretty interesting reading – if you know who the players are . . .

Franklin

September 24th, 2010
1:04 pm

it’s being a called the Republican toll booth now in our office. Sonny lied. Its pathetic.

Aquagirl

September 24th, 2010
1:07 pm

What a grandstander. Did he take time out from his third disclosure “whoopsie” to say this?

Deal: Just Like Perdue.

General Sherman

September 24th, 2010
1:10 pm

why would any one trust a lame duck,losing governor who heads the appointed board?

Retired Soldier

September 24th, 2010
1:16 pm

Barnes: Just like Barnes. Enough said.

shaggy

September 24th, 2010
1:28 pm

“SRTA Director Gena Evans and Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said Thursday that much had changed in 20 years, including explosive population growth no one predicted.”

One thing that hasn’t changed in 20 years: Our elected politicos were corrupt liars then. They are corrupt liars today.

The evidence is a little, as they say, “overwhelming”.

Robert

September 24th, 2010
1:36 pm

Mr. Deal, There is no reason to ever trust a politician, or anything that they promise. You know it, and today’s sell-out of the citizens of Atlanta proves it.

Road Scholar

September 24th, 2010
1:38 pm

Folks, the toll is a source of income that will help address transportation. Yes they did pledge to remove the tolls once the road is paid for, but things do change. New elected officials. The secondary impacts of SR 400 need to be addressed first. Traffic on the road has been nearly 50% higher than predicted.

The opeartions at Sidney Marcus, Buford Highway and Lenox Road, esp at rush hours, is horrific. The direct connection of I85N to/from SR400 is needed to remove the congestion and improve the air quality in this area.. That should be the first project undertaken. The second is to rework the I 285/SR400 interchange, removing the left hand entrances to SR 400.

All the other projects along SR 400 should be undertaken with a south to north priority, if SR 400 toll monies are used. Widening SR400 north of the river has limited influence by the operations at the extension. Only those people who have never changed their mind can bellyache about the decision to continue to collect the tolls. But use the money local to the extension.

Backroom Deal

September 24th, 2010
1:42 pm

Perdue is exactly right. Nathan Deal has been a member of Congress in Washington DC for 18 years.

shaggy

September 24th, 2010
1:45 pm

Why do you people act like this is some kind of huge surprise. Politicians could not care less about you. They have been doing this forever.
Want to fix it?

1)Kick the current ones to the curb. ALL of them.
2)Elect only the ones that will immediately place harsh (think tar & feathers + the rode out on a rail thing) penalties on politicians (themselves) that betray the public trust, i.e. lying like a rug, stealing like it’s nobody’s business, etc…
3)Carry out the penalties in public…every single time, without fail.

Then, only the ones that really want to serve will serve.

Veteran Observer

September 24th, 2010
1:45 pm

Road Scholar, completely agree and thank you to Mr Deal for not chasing votes by closing this revenue source! I contributed and voted for Roy when he ran the last time, but Mr Deal gets my vote and money this time because of his integrity on the issues! Stay on the issues Mr Deal and you will be the next governor!

shaggy

September 24th, 2010
1:48 pm

OK Road Scholar & Veteran Scholar,

Keep the rotten tolls that were lied about and promises broken. Get rid of my property tax.

shaggy

September 24th, 2010
1:50 pm

Road Scholar & Veteran Scholar,

The country was a lot differenty in 1789 too, but we still use that Constitution thing and even protect it…some of us anyway.

Screw the Public Trust

September 24th, 2010
2:00 pm

A promise is a promise. Period. It doesn’t matter that the circumstances have changed. None of their lame excuses matter. A promise is a promise. A recent national poll showed that 77% of Americans distrust their elected officials at any level of government. Sonny, Gena, the SRTA board and the GDOT board just help reinforce that attitude.

Nobody will dispute that GA400 needs some maojor improvements. BUT, thre is a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. GDOT and SRTA chose the WRONG way to conduct the public’s business. This was done in almost total secrecy and the public had absolutely no insight as what was happening. As late as yesterday afternoon, the GDOT board had enough votes to delay this until questions could be answered and explained to the public. But somehow overnight, at least 3 board members changed their minds. Yesterday, Dana Lemon, Robert Brown and Johnny Floyd urged fellow board members to delay this vote and do things the right way. Floyd even quoted the Speaker and Lt. Governor whom he said requested this matter be delayed. But some 18 hours later, all three had switched positions. The GDOT board could have killed this BEFORE it got to SRTA but they showed their spineless character. Members Kuhlke, Gooch, Cole, Brown, Lemon, McClinton and Floyd allowed this to happen.

The proper thing to have done would have been to pay the tolls off now. Remove the toll booths today. SRTA is sitting on more than $40 million in reserves. Then decide what improvements need to be made, decide how best to finance those improvements (new tolls or not), allow for public input, and THEN vote to proceed. Back room deals, secrecy, and betraying the public trust is no way to conducts the people’s business. Shame on everyone involved!

Dave

September 24th, 2010
2:01 pm

This has become the way the government works…..lies, broken promises & more lies.
Never again will I support any tolls, local option or special sales tax, local option school sales tax
or transportation tax…………

kindergarden math

September 24th, 2010
2:03 pm

Can anyone explain what the heck Sonny was saying in that last sentence ?

Veteran Observer

September 24th, 2010
2:06 pm

Shaggy, do not disagree that promises were made to get the measure passed and should be kept! However, 400 is a mess and some limited extension of the tolls with specific projects like Road Scholar mentions is vital! At that time, open the booths or get the voters to approve keeping them in place! Do not siphon off the funds to be spent elsewhere like Mr Barnes did which may be contributing to this problem! The problem with this extension is there has not been proper public discussion of the matter! The extension should only be allowed as previously stated for needed improvements to this roadway and that should be the end of it!

deegee

September 24th, 2010
2:09 pm

Isn’t just like a Republican to tax and spend and then act like no one notices? It’s like when my dad lost his hearing and thought that no one else in the room could hear him blowing wind.

“Isn’t that great about America? I said, ‘Nathan, we may disagree on this, but I sure hope you get elected. We can’t afford that other guy.”

CORR

September 24th, 2010
2:09 pm

What a pile of crap. GDOT and the state is perfectly fine advocating longer, costlier roads when better routes exist and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars less. Honor the agreement on the toll, be more efficient and pull the (about to be) wasted $182 million from the 411 Connector project. That will fund the ramp, other listed projects, etc. http://www.coalitionfortherightroad.org.

Fans of US411

September 24th, 2010
2:13 pm

CORR:

Shut up and leave our much needed road alone. Stop being a paid mouthpiece for the zillionaire Rollins Family. And get off this blog. It doesn’t have a thing to do with US411.

kimmer

September 24th, 2010
2:18 pm

I really am not interested in excuses. As someone else said a promise is a promise. From the promise by the congress to make automatic withholding temporary during WWII to the present GA400 betrayal. Just one more example among 100s of others that send the message loud and clear that you cannot trust politicians to keep a promise to make tax. temporary. Message: When it comes to taxes and a politician assures you its just temporary, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER BELIEVE THEM!!!!!!!!!!

Barry

September 24th, 2010
2:22 pm

@ Veteran Observer 1:45: Deal gets your vote because of his “integrity on the issues”? BWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHahahahahaha! Whew! Thanks! Needed a good laugh today.

PMC

September 24th, 2010
2:23 pm

285 needs a lot of improvements. I 85 needs improvements. I75 needs improvements.

Roswell Rd needs improvements….. let’s just put tolls every 3 miles like the do in florida.

Heck, make the whole state a turnpike. that would workout really well.

Rotten Deal

September 24th, 2010
2:25 pm

I cannot see how this latest outright lie by Sonny, Gena and the GOP won’t further hurt Nathan Deal. Taking a page from Ronald Regan, “Are you better off today than you were 7 1/2 years ago?” If you loved the lying, self serving back rooms deals of Sonny perdue, you will love Nathan Deal. Apparently thats how the Republican Party intends to govern this state.

I’m voting for Barnes. He may be arrogant, but with $16 million he doesn’t need to steal. And at least I had a job and my kids got a 9 month school year when he was Governor.

Hairy

September 24th, 2010
2:34 pm

Sooooo glad to see Sonny go. Now the question is, who is the lesser of (2) crooks to vote for ?
Lying dogs…….The 1% MARTA Tax was to have been dropped when it was paid for also.

Karen Handel Supporter

September 24th, 2010
2:35 pm

WOW ….I just read another 11 years to pay for the tolls and they think we got money to pay for tolls. They broke there promise and I am switching my vote to Roy Barnes. Deal is just like Sonny

A dad

September 24th, 2010
2:50 pm

Just another example of our greedy officals unable to turn down a source of income. I wonder how much of the 400 tolls will actually be spent on 400, or “diverted” to finance some legislator’s home county project. Shameful. Absolutely shameful vote.

rod bodiford

September 24th, 2010
2:50 pm

Vote for Roy Barnes. He will Gena Evans and the other Perdue flunkys that are making $100K salaries in do-nothing jobs.

rod bodiford

September 24th, 2010
2:51 pm

He will FIRE their sorry butts.

A dad

September 24th, 2010
2:51 pm

Republicans – you just lost my vote in November. Two can play the “screw y’all” game.
Roy, are you listening?

Neal

September 24th, 2010
2:54 pm

Isn’t that convenient. Republican governor breaks a promise, and Republican candidate tries to score political points from it.

SPSU

September 24th, 2010
3:00 pm

Roy the Rat supports the 400 toll – more money for him to siphon off to his buddies to build sonething useles in Mabelton.