Nathan Deal: Ga. 400 tolls to come down by end of 2013

More later, but here’s the press release just issued – there’s no mention of it, but clearly the timing is intended to help the July 31 vote on the transportation sales tax:

Fulfilling his promise to commuters, Gov. Nathan Deal today announced that he will have the state pay off its bond debt on Dec. 1, 2013, and move rapidly after that to remove the Ga. 400 toll by the end of that year. This will stop collection four years earlier than previously planned.

“Ga. 400 commuters have paid more than their fair share already, and this is the earliest we can bring it down without paying a penalty for early repayment of the bonds,” Deal said. “When the Ga. 400 toll went up, the state of Georgia promised commuters that it wasn’t forever. If we don’t keep that promise, we lose the faith of the people. We face many challenges when it comes to paying for new capacity, particularly in the Atlanta region. There are no easy answers, no secret pots of money, but it is imperative that governments build the trust of their people. As your governor, I will keep the promises I make to you.”

The Ga. 400 toll was originally scheduled to come down after 20 years, ending in 2011. In 2010 – after then-candidate Deal promised to end the toll the following year – the state issued new bonds tied to the toll revenue in order to pay for needed improvements in the Ga. 400 corridor, including a new connector to I-85. The $40 million in new bonds were issued Dec. 1, 2010, and they mature June 1, 2017. But at the three-year mark the state can repay the bonds without a penalty. Further, the state needs time to plan for physically bringing down the gates and the dramatic restructuring that will be needed in the toll area.

“As I have said many times before: I inherited a situation where we could not bring down the gates immediately, and we face a situation where we would have to pay a penalty for early repayment,” Deal said. “This timeline gives commuters a finish line, while still allowing us to meet our obligations. Moving forward, we’ll need to continue to work on long-term solutions to congestion in the 400 corridor. And I look forward to doing that in a transparent fashion that commuters can trust.”

The governor’s proposal requires approval of the State Road and Tollway Authority.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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412 comments Add your comment

Bill Simon

July 19th, 2012
10:56 am

“clearly the timing is intended to help the July 31 vote on the transportation sales tax”

“Clearly,” Jim? T-SPLOST funds cannot be used to pay-down debt, so I’m not sure how this tie-in works that you are thinking about…?

CLEMSONDUDE

July 19th, 2012
10:56 am

So Do we trust his word???? Nah..until the tolls are gone.

guest

July 19th, 2012
10:57 am

yeah they broke their promise the first time around I dont trust any of them or what they say

Bill

July 19th, 2012
10:59 am

Great, but i’m still not voting $.01 more of my money to give to the government to spend. The latest ad touting the “job creation”??? WHAT A JOKE.
TSPLOST has absolutely no chance.

George P. Burdell

July 19th, 2012
11:01 am

Isn’t it funny how you can get a toll taken away relatively quickly when it serves your political purpose to try and clear the way for the next tax/toll. I still would not trust them until it is actually done. Of course, if he doesn’t he can probably kiss his reelection goodbye in 2014 so maybe he actually will get it done.

I'mWithBill

July 19th, 2012
11:01 am

NO to the TSPLOST! You get enough of my money already and what have you I seen done with it? Nothing! No more…

Carla

July 19th, 2012
11:02 am

I feel the Toll roads need to remain … the commuters does not pay the same taxes as the citizens living within the city to ensure the roads are maintained properly. They chose to move out of the limits of those taxes and should be held accountable like everyone else.

Why do you think Florida has so many Toll Roads … to hold the visitors to their city partly responsible for the roads maintenance and up keep.

sam

July 19th, 2012
11:03 am

I am from Missouri. Seeing is believing. So show me.

Jack in Sandy Springs

July 19th, 2012
11:04 am

Good for the Governor, Handel would have never done this!

Jimbo 24

July 19th, 2012
11:04 am

Perhaps not, Bill, but Jim’s comment is right on target!

James

July 19th, 2012
11:04 am

I’d rather they keep the tolls. I can make a swift trip up 400 to Alpharetta each morning with minimal traffic – that well worth $30 a month. Once the tolls come down everyone will start taking that route causing a traffic nightmare.

Simple Truths

July 19th, 2012
11:04 am

Take the toll down. Then we will trust you. Not the other way around.

Centrist

July 19th, 2012
11:04 am

Certainly the right thing to do – but the timing stinks of gross political maneuvering in an attempt to get the TSPLOST passed. Had Beach phoned in his vote last year, this would not be an issue.

DanO

July 19th, 2012
11:05 am

Just pay the penalty and be done with the tolls. Deal: So concerned with keeping his word. Give me a break. Wake up folks. This 1 % tax will never go away and I bet if T-Splost does not pass the tolls will remain forever.

Hmmm

July 19th, 2012
11:05 am

Carla -

Residents of FL do not pay state taxes. When they change that here I will have no problem with a tool, but until then it needs to go. The only people who use it are residents commuting to work.

The Maestro

July 19th, 2012
11:07 am

If he says it I suppose we should believe it. Am I worong?

jimmy62

July 19th, 2012
11:07 am

Carla: it’s not about having tolls , it’s about broken promises from politicians that don’t have to face anyconsequences for lying.

c dog

July 19th, 2012
11:07 am

Carla…you are forgetting that people live in the city actually go north on 400 and have to pay both ways.

Ura Goober

July 19th, 2012
11:07 am

Citizens of Atlanta pay no more than anyone else for GA 400.

mike morales

July 19th, 2012
11:07 am

Yes it was done to provide good will to the voters for the upcoming vote. Even Deal said we can not lose trust of the voters. And with all the pipe dream projects they want to do with TSPLOST they need everyone on board. One major objection is that the government can never deliver on anything they do. Deal delivered so now you should vote yes! Wait they still cant deliver and this is just a big power grab vote no!

Browncoat

July 19th, 2012
11:08 am

Carla, the problem is that we were promised that the tolls would not be forever when the GA 400 extension was approved. If the state actually ends the tolls as promised, some folks might have an iota more faith in their government. For me, it’s gonna take more.

say what?

July 19th, 2012
11:08 am

Get rid of the toll and TSPLOST. What jobs will be created by TSPLOST? Answer commercial real estate agents and attorneys. They will eat up most of the fund before any work is done by buying and selling large swatches of land.
Untie roads by releasing jobs back to where people live- below I-20. that would save on the need to build more roads around busy areas. Henry, Clayton, Fayette, Coweta, Rockdale, Newton, Douglas counties have great access to the interstate and airport. Bring jobs back to all corners of metro Atlanta.

Hmmm

July 19th, 2012
11:08 am

julia

July 19th, 2012
11:09 am

still voting NO

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
11:10 am

If you’re voting NO can you tell me why? I will gladly challenge any doubt you have with facts.

john

July 19th, 2012
11:11 am

Good. Then we can get used the other toll roads that will be needed when the TSplost fails.

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
11:11 am

for all the NO voters…have you even read HB 277? Are you voting on a law you have not read? Didn’t Nancy Pelosi do the same thing with Obamacare? You are an irresponsible citizen if you vote for anything you don’t read first. Yes or No.

Ackshun

July 19th, 2012
11:11 am

Tolls coming down in an election year? quelle suprise!

Bill Simon

July 19th, 2012
11:11 am

For those of you not in tune, there was a rally earlier this week. Here was that press release (Jim…did you post about this?):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Garland Favorito

Tuesday July 17, 2012 (404) 664-4044

garlandf@msn.com

http://www.voterga.org

Free GA400 Petitions, Letter Presented to Governor Deal

ATLANTA, GA – A group of civic leaders representing VoterGa’s Free GA 400 project presented Georgia Governor, Nathan Deal, with 400 petitions requesting that he adhere to the original GA 400 construction agreements and honor his 2010 pledge to remove the GA 400 toll, the only mandatory road toll in Georgia history.

Copies of the original 1989 Atlanta City Ordinance and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) agreement were displayed today to show the original stipulations. According to those agreements:

· The toll was required to be removed upon repayment of construction bonds for the Georgia 400 extension and the Buckhead loop and,

· Toll revenue was only allowed to be spent for those projects, both of which are inside the I-285 perimeter.

Construction costs were repaid in 2009 and over $40 million in surplus funds had been collected by the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) when the original bond matured in 2011. But in September of 2010, Governor Perdue convinced the SRTA board to issue a new $40 million bond for Buckhead interchange ramps and other new, unrelated projects. Free GA 400 contends that the $40 million bond was unnecessary to fund the $21 million Buckhead interchange ramps since SRTA already had about $50 million in cash, assets and 2011 receivables at the time.

The Free GA 400 group also contends that SRTA currently has enough money to:

· Pay for completion of the Buckhead interchange ramps;

· Open a trust or interest bearing account to repay all current bond principal

· Fund now all bond interest that will accrue until the 2017 maturity date

In their letter, Free GA 400 explained that to end the toll now, Governor Deal simply needs to make a decision to suspend the new, unrelated projects until they can be funded by normal means. These projects violate the original agreements since they have nothing to do with the GA 400 extension or Buckhead loop.

The group also requested liquidation of a $10 million 17th St. property purchased under Gov. Roy Barnes 2002 even though it had nothing to do with GA 400.

Sean Smith

July 19th, 2012
11:12 am

Leave the booths and raise the toll to $2 and build a spaghetti junction at 400 & 285. Thats the most dysfunctional and dangerous interchange in the area. Roads aren’t free folks.

Mike

July 19th, 2012
11:12 am

I agree with Sam, …show me, don’t tell me…..

Ebenezer Snerdberg

July 19th, 2012
11:12 am

Chicago Cubs….WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONS!

Robert

July 19th, 2012
11:13 am

This clearly a ploy to sway voters to vote in favor of the TSPLOST. Do they really think we are that dumb to not see through the smoke and mirrors. Amazing how the timing is so close to the July 31 vote! Still voting NO!!!

Vince

July 19th, 2012
11:13 am

Believe it when I see it. Or rather, I’ll believe it when I don’t have to slow down to a crawl right before the Lenox exit. And Deal is probably upset that he had to play that card now instead of just before re-election.

There was a political promise made, and much to the chagrin of some folks, it should be upheld. Carla must be familiar with the NY/NJ area to play the commuter/citizen card.

Trust is shot

July 19th, 2012
11:14 am

Too little, too late. This trust was broken and I would never vote for something like TSPLOST as a result. Georgia goes down with the rest of government, grabbing pots of any available monies and using them for other purposes… social security being the biggest failure of the public’s trust.

shannyeight

July 19th, 2012
11:14 am

I agree with Carla- I dont have an issue with them keeping the toll on 400. Other than regulating use and maintenance of that expressway, the money from it also could cover other projects…I rather see them use the toll funds for other projects than abolish it, and start looking for other ways to get money, which would directly affect the taxpayers.

jliberal

July 19th, 2012
11:14 am

Bill Simon @10:56
“clearly the timing is intended to help the July 31 vote on the transportation sales tax”

“Clearly,” Jim? T-SPLOST funds cannot be used to pay-down debt, so I’m not sure how this tie-in works that you are thinking about…?

Lots of posters on this blog and elsewhere have stated they don’t trust that the TSPLOST will really end after 10 years because the GA 400 toll did not end when the state said it would.

So Jim is implying that Governor Deal is making this annoucement to prove those people wrong and get them to trust that TSPLOST really will end when they say it will.

Georgian

July 19th, 2012
11:14 am

So ironic this announcement just days before the vote on T-splost………
Wow do they (Governor, Mayor Kaseem Reed, city of Atlanta officials, GDOT) think the average Georgia tax payer are that stupid?
Announce that the tolls will be eliminated then on July 31st they will have their hand out to impose another tax to fund more HOT LANES and unnecessary HOV lanes and line their own pockets with the rest of the money for 10 years on out to oblivion-
I actually looked line by line at what is included in the T-splost and very very little is going towards the actual building a county wide rail system which is the one thing that all other ECONOMICALLY SUCCESSFUL cities have in common. The T-splost is filled with researching and discussing what to do and very little to the actual doing things that make a quick and large impact to effectively manage traffic
Its still NO to T-splost for me-

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
11:14 am

Sean Smith, that interchange is a project on the TSPLOST list.

Jessica

July 19th, 2012
11:15 am

Before today, I heard constant complaints about the continuation of the toll. Now everyone is b*tching because it’s going away?

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
11:15 am

Still waiting on an educated reason to vote no on TSPLOST….

Jim M

July 19th, 2012
11:15 am

Bravo. So bring the T-SPLOST back for a vote in 2014 and I’ll think about it. Let’s pretend I’m from Missouri!

jeffrey

July 19th, 2012
11:15 am

Wow! Look who is walking the walk can’t believe it.

PTC DAWG

July 19th, 2012
11:16 am

I am for the tolls, they keep traffic down. In fact, we need more.

As to the Splost, if we need more money for roads, let everyone pay, add a nickel or so to the gas tax and get on with it.

5150 UOAD

July 19th, 2012
11:16 am

I early voted today and even IF Ga 400 toll goes away I voted NO on the SPLOST.

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
11:16 am

TSPLOST MUST end in 10 years BY LAW. Completely different from the 400 Toll. Read HB 277 before you vote!

Stan

July 19th, 2012
11:16 am

@VoteYes, simply put, it is a tax increase. I will not be voting for a tax increase. I think that we are taxed enough. If this is such a high priority, find the money elsewhere. But the largest obstacle is that this state is very incompetent when it comes to transportation. They could not build a bus station economically. Dont joke yourself into thinking that this toll on 400 will be lifted. I beleive that it was just last year that we were told it would be exteneded for additional maintenace on 400. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, well then…….

Poor Idea

July 19th, 2012
11:17 am

Deal will renege on this in late 2013. Wait and see. There will be some excuse.

sdc

July 19th, 2012
11:17 am

Liar-Liar, pants on fire.
You know no tolls will be coming down off GA 400…………………so sick of the political BS from Raw Deal and the rest of the assclowns at the state and federal level.

I Hate MEEBO pop up

July 19th, 2012
11:18 am

In addition I say take down the MEEBO pop up on AJC web site