As the state embarked on the biggest, most expensive innovation for Georgia drivers in generations — optional toll lanes — it promised to study and learn from the I-85 HOT lane pilot project.
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What is a HOT lane?
A HOT lane is a “High Occupancy Toll” lane. Carpools can drive free, but solo drivers must pay a toll. The toll rises and falls with congestion in the main lanes in order to keep the lane free-flowing.
The I-85 HOT lane — a 16-mile stretch from the Perimeter in Atlanta to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County — opened in 2011. Two-person carpools must pay the toll, but three-person carpools may drive free.
The toll can range up to 90 cents a mile. Its high so far is $7.50 for the whole stretch. Drivers sign up for a Peach Pass online, and a transponder sticker on their windshield tracks usage for electronic billing purposes.
The goal of the HOT lane is not to generate money for the state — it operates at a deficit — but to help manage traffic and provide an option for solo drivers who need a faster commute.
An Example: Three ZIP Codes
These ZIP codes are clustered near the top two HOT lane access points. The figures are median household income and HOT lane transactions per thousand people. The estimated median income for Gwinnett County, according to the census, is $61,000.
- 30024; $102,635; 2.0107
- 30043; $69,238; 2.2980
- 30046; $49,197; 1.1146