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

Real reason for traffic congestion

July 19th, 2012
12:41 pm

Who is qualified to build a road? Look at the on and off ramps! Are they in the best location? Do they contribute to the flow of traffic?
Who decided that it was a good idea to add a light at the end of a ramp? Who decided that this would add to continuous flow of traffic? REALLY! REALLY! You wasted tax dollars and your time to come up with that.

Do you know how to drive? Do you know that you should go the speed limit when merging into traffic? Do you know you are not suppose to slow down on the highway when exiting?
You may say that the lane is not long enough. WELL, poor planning would you say so how is paying a toll or raising taxes going to slow this problem

5150 UOAD

July 19th, 2012
12:41 pm

Legalize POT and we will not need a SPLOTS TAX.

Church of the painful Truth

July 19th, 2012
12:42 pm

Somebody help me on this question.Who or what is paying for all the TV advertisment supporting Tsplost??Where is the money coming from? Follow the money and you may get some answers on who, what and why.

Isn't this about getting people to work on time?

July 19th, 2012
12:42 pm

Let me get to work via one of those private jets at McCollum Field and then they can take some of that T-SPLOST money to build a new control tower!
Investigate how this money is spent PEOPLE!

Head in the Sand

July 19th, 2012
12:43 pm

@ Vote Yes: Here’s an educated opinion for you. I have my degree in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech, so where did you get yours from? There are reasons to vote yes, and unfortunately, also to vote NO. Also, how many Republicans read that Obamacare bill before voting no, hmm? I guess that was ok with you? Here are but a few reasons to vote no:
1. The gas tax hasn’t been increased with inflation for decades, which has helped fuel (pun intended) the fact that GA is near the bottom of all states in funding transportation per capita.
2. TIA will not solve our woefully underfunded transportation system. Electric car drivers will still pay ZERO for road maintenance and anything that is NOT on the TSPLOST project list. This is legal tax evasion. Hybrid owners also don’t pay their fair share.
3. Congress should have made the decision a LONG TIME AGO and either raised the gas tax to an appropriate level to properly fund all needed transportation or else (even better) planned towards a user-mileage fee instead of the gas tax. But no, they have no problem making decisions about when life begins and ramming that down our throats, but when it comes to an extremely complex issues like how to freaking fund transportation, they kick that down to voters so that they can keep their jobs.
4. Even if this passes, the above issues remain unresolved. Every year, as more electric, hybrid and generally better gas mileage cars are produced, we lose funding for transportation because fewer and fewer gas taxes are collected. All TSPLOST does is fund a finite project list.
5. We now have an agricultural engineer/politician planning all of our highway projects at GDOT thanks to Deal’s appointment. I would think the minimum qualification for this job would be a civil engineering and/or urban planning degree…call me crazy.

Having said all of the above, I will probably hold my nose and vote yes, simply because I have zero faith in our “leadership” to actually do anything right on transportation. In fact, we are actually completely leaderless on this issue. I figure something is better than nothing. But, if voters actually know the above information, I would not fault them for voting no. What I can stand personally are people who are blindly voting no because they just want to pay any taxes and don’t take the time to study this issue in depth…but that goes back to my earlier point that this issue is WAY too complex for deciding as a referenDUMB. Isn’t this why we elect supposedly smart people? I guess not.

VOTE YES!!!

July 19th, 2012
12:44 pm

@ Ed Dennis. What new agency are you referring to? Money will be governed by the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission

48-8-247.
Each sales tax return remitting taxes collected under this article shall separately identify the location of each retail establishment at which any of the taxes remitted were collected and shall specify the amount of sales and the amount of taxes collected at each establishment for the period covered by the return in order to facilitate the determination by the state revenue commissioner that all taxes imposed by this article are collected and distributed according to situs of sale.
48-8-248.
The proceeds of the tax collected by the state revenue commissioner in each special district under this article shall be disbursed as soon as practicable after collection to the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission to be maintained in a trust fund and administered by the commission on behalf of the special district imposing the tax. Such proceeds for each special district shall be kept separate from other funds of the commission and shall not in any manner be commingled with other funds of the commission.

it never ends

July 19th, 2012
12:45 pm

T-SPLOST this year….what kind of SPLOST next year?

Carol

July 19th, 2012
12:46 pm

Of course the timing is suspect. It definitely is because of T-splost. I bet that 99% of the reasons people are giving for voting no are the GA 400 toll. Everyone I’ve talked to starts out with that. But sorry, there is no way in h@ll I’m going to believe that the toll will end next year. He’ll come up with some excuse for why it can’t be done. Sound like a cynic. Don’t I have good reason to be?

H

July 19th, 2012
12:47 pm

Rafe….I pointed out an example. I didn’t leave anywhere. 50 cents for a toll is nothing.

NL

July 19th, 2012
12:47 pm

Governor, stop collecting the GA 400 toll now, in keeping with the original promise. Pay off what is owed now rather than continue to pay interest on the load still outstanding. Charge the penalty to the department that encouraged it to happen in the first place. That will teach a lesson on failure to follow-thru on the public trust. What is present is not trustworthy. T-SPLOT does not represent a cost most Georgians can currently afford. We’ll have better indication of how soon we might want to improve our transportation once we get through the November election and understand our chances of surviving as a nation.

Charles is voting yes

July 19th, 2012
12:50 pm

Our politicians failed us, this I can agree on. Did you know Georgia ranks last in transportation spending per capital. Additionally, our gas tax has not been adjusted since the early 80’s. The legislatures should have adjusted this years ago but failed to do so. Our only option is the tsplost. Our infrastructure is failing and will cost far more to repair if we the citizens punt this to the next generation. We have to drive and sip commerce via the interstate system. How do we support it if funds keep decreasing.

You know who you are

July 19th, 2012
12:50 pm

If people didn’t have babies as fast and multiple as roaches, we wouldn’t have this problem.

oldfart

July 19th, 2012
12:51 pm

After he abolishes SRTA, fires Gena Evans, discontinues the I-85 HOT lane, diverts the 300 million dollars from the gas tax already earmarked for the $1,000,000,000.00+ HOT lanes planned for the I-75 corridor, then we’ll talk. By the way, talking about things quietly slipping through, that $300 million dollar seed money for the I-75 HOT lanes that passed at the end of the last session of the legislature barely received a mention in the press, AJC included. That is gas tax money that could have been used to address some of these projects in the TSPLOST referendum. These extremely high up front costs put the revenue generation from HOT lanes much too far in the future to be feasible. The government trust issues have been massive from GDOT, SRTA, the governor and the legislature not Listening to their constituency that the Billions of dollars planned for HOT lanes all over Atlanta could be better spent.

You know who you are

July 19th, 2012
12:52 pm

Those are usually the one that can’t afford themselves, much less government bleeders they breed.

Church of the painful Truth

July 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

Vote Yes!!!— The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission Board is appointed by the Governor. I wonder where their loyalty lies?

hmmmm

July 19th, 2012
12:54 pm

Enforce our immigration laws and will clear up half the traffic problems.

SylvanHi

July 19th, 2012
12:56 pm

One of the MAIN functions of government is to maintain infrastructure. Its in the constitution of EVERY state, mandated federally. Roads, ports(air/sea), and rail(passenger/freight) along with water services(clean/waste) MUST be supported by taxes. A no vote will NOT change any plans only delay them until new funding is found; not only keeping the toll on 400, but ADDING tolls to MORE roads! Then bonds have to be approved and issued and we have the same projects, NEEDED projects (285/400, 285/20 to name a couple) that will take LONGER to start up, meaning we have to endure the bottle-necks longer.
Transit projects seem to be so polarizing here that hardly anyone acknowledges that MAJOR interchanges with be improved… arterial roads will be widened and most of the local project lists all have bike, greenspace, and pedestrian safety projects listed. Not to mention that the transit projects, while not perfect, are a BASE… we have to BEGIN expanding the rail system so that its attractive to more riders. Fill in the core of the transit network, and then later expand it outside of 285. Thats what was done in Denver. They LOVE their system and have voted for this SAME tax twice to continue expanding the rail system.
This is not a perfect plan, but its another building block on the existing transit system AND road improvements. Short sighted, racist thinking gave us a limited rail system that’s only efficent for a FEW to use. We have an opportunity to open a VERY useful line to the emory area, create an intown mover for last mile connectivity(beltline), and restore bus service to Clayton all while giving the suburbanites wider roads, and better exchanges around 285 to keep the ole Lexus cruising at more than 15mph.
I am a member of no chamber, nor am I employed by any company that cares one way or the other. I grew up in SW Atlanta, public school, US Navy, years of check to check living, now at 43 i’m finally degreed and working as an occupational therapist. I love my home and as a child I was excited to when the first section of MARTA rail opened. Closing on a condo in Midtown, working at clinics in Roswell, and Powder Springs I have no choice but to drive to work so none of the rail projects will benefit me, but interchanges around 285 will. I may even be able to leave my car at home, walk to a street-car, transfer to heavy rail, and get to the airport and have a chapter of the book I bought to enjoy on vacation already knocked out.

Im voting yes

OH Hail NO!

July 19th, 2012
12:56 pm

@million jobs, my backside those jobs will go back to the illegals

hmmmm

July 19th, 2012
12:57 pm

send our illegals and prison population to Cuba like Castro cleared his prisons to us during bumblehead Carter with the Mariolitos.
That’s a good start for all of our problems.

Rip Torn

July 19th, 2012
1:00 pm

What these naive yes voters can’t seem to comprehend is that throwing money at a problem rarely fixes it. There are no serious plans to address the waste, fraud, and abuse that runs rampent within Marta and the GDOT. No, instead they come with all these “if we don’t act right this very minute, now, now, now” late night infomercialesque pitches to simply shake us down for more funds to cover their losses. Don’t give me that “but but but the wangwidge of da biwll” bs. With this much money on the table there is guaranteed to be all kinds of kick backs and under the table pay-offs. Just look at who is funding the advertisements! Do you really think they don’t have some favors lined up if it passes?

Charles is voting yes

July 19th, 2012
1:00 pm

George and federal rules are strict about e verification on state and federal funded projects. The fines if caught are enormous and can also lead to loss of contrActing license in the state. Death penalty per se.

Joe

July 19th, 2012
1:00 pm

FIRST, remove the 400 toll. Then, we’ll talk. Not falling for your crap any longer.

Vote No

July 19th, 2012
1:01 pm

Really, after all this time, they annouce they taking down the toll, ah…let’s see right before a vote for more money. It’s just another tactic to get you to vote for another large “slush fund” that can be given out like candy to all of their friends. More money, more money, more money….I say no more.

Sid

July 19th, 2012
1:02 pm

This is nothing more than a politician eliminating 1 tax (toll), just so he can con you into voting to give yourself an even higher tax. Until politicians of all persuasions can prove that they can spend OUR money wisely I see no reason to vote yes for the TSPLOST.

million jobs, my backside

July 19th, 2012
1:03 pm

yeah, and the DOT gets all the jobs and all the money.

Janis

July 19th, 2012
1:04 pm

I’d like to know if my tax dollars are being spent to promote this t-splost. If they are how much have they wasted?

Charles is voting yes

July 19th, 2012
1:05 pm

Rip torn,

Have you not seen the FHWA reports on the aging infrastructure. Discovery channel did a special outlining the frail state of our roadways. If we wait as you propose, the cost is estimated to be 10 times the costs to address today. Roadways require maintenance and that takes funding. Georgia is one of the fast growing states in the union yet rank last at transportation spending. These roadways are not a sunk cost, they are an investment.

schummann

July 19th, 2012
1:06 pm

This is nothing but a ploy to get the yes vote on the TSPLOST… Don’t buy into it people. This may end the toll, but the TAX will be a stepping stone for yet MORE taxes.. Its time for the people to stand up to OVERSPENDING government and let them know that we are tired of the excessive spending that they do. If they would put the money that they are spending on advertising the TSPLOST into road projects instead advertising all over the radio and tv, they wouldn’t need ANOTHER TAX.
VOTE NO to the TSPLOST!!!!!!

hmmm

July 19th, 2012
1:06 pm

wonder what Dwight Eisenhower would think of his Interstate system today.

Tell Ya' What

July 19th, 2012
1:07 pm

I’m voting NO… But for the sake of the argument I’ll play along for a moment. I’ll change my mind and vote yes if someone can name one tax, fee, penalty, fine, or contribution that has ever been spent wisely by the government. In addition, I’ll need to see some proof of ANY promised tax increase ever being used in its entirity for what it was originally earmarked for. Futhermore, since no government project has EVER come in anywhere close to budget or on time I’ll need some proof that for the first time in history that can happen. AND, before we agree to pay any more taxes I would like to get an accounting of where all the other tax money that is collected in the region goes. I just have to believe a rational group of people could sit down and find the exact amount of money needed for this project wrapped up in the WASTE of other government projects. Finally, I will need some assurance that a politician won’t find some way in 10 years to keep this tax going for another 10 years. And the “it’s the law” argument rings hollow, so leave that one out.

Nevermind… I’m voting NO.

Whiskey Breath

July 19th, 2012
1:08 pm

This ought to be a reason not to vote for the transportation sales tax.
If they play politics with with the last toll booth, they will do it again.
I will believe it when I see it. What booth in the nation has closed?
Gov’t loves the money too much. If this vote passes, they will put a toll booth
on I 75.

sweet

July 19th, 2012
1:08 pm

Weren’t we all supposed to be getting around like the Jetson’s by now?

Charles is voting yes

July 19th, 2012
1:08 pm

GDOT is down to 1970’s levels of staffing and trying to maintain a far greater infrastructure. Down 2000 employees, declining gas tax revenue, aging roadway, and no means to fund improvements. How do we solve this if not for the tsplost.

5150 UOAD

July 19th, 2012
1:10 pm

It will not produce JOBs for Legal citizens.

Look at SANDY SPRINGS workers. They are majority Hispanic/Latino that I promise are not all legal US citizens.

Tom Jenkins

July 19th, 2012
1:11 pm

Tell Granny to add another thing of cornbread for tonight. Uncle Crump decided to stop by about 5pm.

NO to penny's

July 19th, 2012
1:11 pm

Quit compalining about traffic….try not driving at all and see how you like trying to get somewhere 24/7.
Traffic looks great in that scenario.

Rich Black

July 19th, 2012
1:11 pm

I love Gay people!!!

DagnyT

July 19th, 2012
1:12 pm

. I am voting NO because improvements to an airport in Kennesaw are not going to untie Atlanta’s traffic, neither will new trees on Buford highway. The list is filled with little pork projects and wish lists and none of it will actually get me to work or home faster. The advertising is a blatant lie, a penny tax. The tax will not relieve traffic and it’s a lot more than a penny. Instead of paying for a new Falcons stadium or opening fishing ponds, let’s use that money to reinvest in our traffic needs, but not further tax the people.

Rip Torn

July 19th, 2012
1:12 pm

Charles,

If every other state jumps off a cliff are you going to too? Im sure there are a lot of things other states spend much more on than us, should we just follow everyone else? What if the problem is not a lack of funds? Ever consider that??? No lets just throw together a hair brained scheme to raise an obscene amount of money, the bulk of which goes toward mass transit… in a region that mass transit will never make sense… yup, you’re right, it’s brilliant.

oldfart

July 19th, 2012
1:12 pm

@Whiskey Breath – They are already accepting bids for an approved project adding toll lanes to I-75 but since they use a system patented by then employees of the State Toll Road Authority, they don’t require a toll booth to get your money.

5150 UOAD

July 19th, 2012
1:13 pm

The Williams road construction company is the ONLY benefactor of a YES vote.

yep

July 19th, 2012
1:13 pm

What we have here is failure to communicate.

Jay

July 19th, 2012
1:13 pm

Better late than never, but I want to see it happen first.

peanut gallery

July 19th, 2012
1:14 pm

How do we generate more revenue for road improvements?

Raise the gas tax.

Or put up more toll roads.

Either way there is a direct link between those who use the roads and those paying for the roads.

NO

July 19th, 2012
1:15 pm

DagnyT has hit the nail on the head!
when those private planes can get me around, they can have some of that money.

hmmm

July 19th, 2012
1:16 pm

I want a telecommute job, but it’s not feasible.

Charles is voting yes

July 19th, 2012
1:18 pm

Rip torn,

The aging infrastructure is a nationwide issue, Georgia is just part of the roadway issues so I am not so sure how cogent your cliff jumping argument is. Regarding funding, I know for a fact it is, the amount of contracts award by gdot were down 2 billion dollars to a level not seen since the early 80’s when they roadways served a population that is half the current size.

What do you propose to solve this shortcoming. Private investment.

Read the PORK in the bill

July 19th, 2012
1:18 pm

Too much pork in the bill…..people are delusional thinking it’s all money to be spent on expanding old and building new roads…..IT”S NOT…

WOW

July 19th, 2012
1:18 pm

@ Vote Yes:

You sound rather arrogant when asserting that people voting against the tax have not read the bill. Perhaps they have and just don’t like it. Perhaps they don’t trust that it will do what it is intended to do. I say this having not made up my mind, whether I am voting yes or no. However, one this is for certain, the ‘elites’ of this state have done no favor with passing it, by acting like you have and insulting people who are against the measure.

Read the PORK in the bill

July 19th, 2012
1:19 pm

A lot of pet projects included.