Public hearing held on HOT lanes - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

Public hearing held on HOT lanes

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GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -

It stirred quite a bit of controversy when the first express toll lanes were created on Interstate 85. Now, motorists could see more HOT lanes.

The goal is to extend those toll lanes on Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County.
    
It will be a 10-mile extension from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road. The HOT lanes let Peach Pass customers pay for a faster ride. The cost is variable, meaning when traffic is heavy, the toll will be higher.
    
The project is intended to help manage the congestion and ease some of the traffic headaches that so many of us experience each day on I-85.

The HOT lanes were met with outrage by drivers when they were first introduced in October 2011, but Georgia Department of Transportation officials stress that this project wouldn't take away any existing lanes.

"This is very different. We are actually doing a new build here, so this would be brand new lanes, brand new construction. It's not converting anything, so it will just be something added rather than taken away," said GDOT spokesperson Jill Goldberg.

GDOT says the project isn't a done deal and public comments matter. Citizens had the chance to sound off about the proposed new HOT lanes at the first of two public hearings on Thursday, but FOX 5's Justin Gray reports that there were more state employees at the meeting than citizens.

"I think a lot of people have just said, ‘I'm not going to waste my time and try to fight something that is a done deal,'" said Gwinnett County resident Ken Clark.

Keith Nabb was one of the people who lead the fight against the current hot lanes, but he says he actually could support this extension.

"I can live with building new lanes. I think everybody's OK with that, but taking existing lanes is insulting because that's public property," Nabb said.

But some other drivers aren't convinced. They said they don't think another toll lane is the answer to congestion.

"I don't believe in paying $10 or $11 dollars to ride in a lane where we're paying for it in a gas tax," said one resident.

There will be an identical open house next Thursday if you are unable to attend Thursday's meeting. People can also comment on GDOT's website.

GDOT officials say the project could begin as early as 2014 and be completed sometime during 2017.

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