Express lanes: WSB Radio held an information session with transportation leaders this week about the metro area express toll lanes. With the Northwest Corridor reversible Express Toll Lanes (I-75/575) expected to be operational by Labor Day, the learning curve is steep. Listen to the program podcast here; read the highlights below.
Highlights of the Northwest Corridor Reversible Express Toll Lanes on I-75/575
Pricing: A uniform pricing approach. During non-demand hours, (about midnight–5AM), the toll will be a flat 50 cents per trip, regardless of length. Otherwise, a minimum charge of 10 cents per mile.
Speed: The goal is to keep traffic moving at a minimum of 45 mph.
Access: There are 10 new points of entry. Five of the new interchanges on I-75 are in different locations from the present interchanges. Access is from the street directly into the express lanes: at Hickory Grove, Big Shanty, Roswell, Terrell Mill and Akers Mill roads. On I-575, three “slip ramps,” will merge into the median area where the express lanes are at Sixes Road, Big Shanty Road and Barrett Parkway
Information: Since lanes are reversible, users must check before driving. Information available at Peachpass.com or dot.ga.gov. Reversal will take place around midday, although this can be be changed, for example, if there is a lengthier rush hour. Gates are remotely operated; enforcement is mostly electronic. Violators will get a citation in the mail for the fee plus penalty.
Vehicles: Trucks are not allowed on the toll lanes. Unlike HOV lanes and the I-85 High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes, which are a conversion from HOV lanes, all private vehicles must pay, including motorcycles and alternative fuel vehicles. Mass transit, law enforcement and emergency vehicles are exempt.
Payment: Payment is electronic only; there are no toll booths. The Peach Pass transponder is specific to the vehicle, but the account holder can obtain as many as needed through the single account. Peach Pass currently has reciprocity with Florida (Sun Pass) and North Carolina (Quick Pass); this will expand across the Southeast and eventually across the nation.
Operational: Expect the Cobb/Cherokee reversible Express Toll Lanes to open by the end of summer. The 10-mile extension of the HOT lanes in Gwinnett County beyond the Mall of Georgia are expected to open by year’s end, an expansion that is a new toll lane and one new general-purpose lane.
— Susan Benson