Two decades of tolls on Ga. 400 might end by Nov. 23.
Gov. Nathan Deal announced last summer that the Ga. 400 toll would end in December, earlier than planned. State Road and Tollway Authority officials now hope to stop the toll over the weekend of Nov. 23, and make the final bond payment at the beginning of December.
The timing on the toll lifting could change depending on the weather. SRTA officials originally thought to lift the toll the following weekend, but changed plans in order not to run into Thanksgiving shopping traffic around the Lenox and Phipps malls.
Authority officials estimate the cost of the toll plaza demolition will be about $4.5 million, but the actual demolition won’t happen until next year.
Until then, SRTA intends to direct all three lanes of traffic under the toll plaza roof where the two Peach Pass lanes currently run. They say enough space is there without chipping away the concrete pediments, as long as the lines on the road are repainted.
That repainting will happen overnight before the toll lifts. A couple of weeks prior to that, drivers will see barrels go up to redirect traffic.
The toll has been a source of heated controversy. When it was installed to pay for extending Ga. 400 inside the Perimeter, officials promised the toll would end when those bonds were paid off in 2011. But when the time came, the authority, led by Gov. Sonny Perdue, said transportation needs were too great and the toll was still needed.
One project used to justify the toll extension was completing an interchange at Ga. 400 and I-85 to remove traffic from that neighborhood, at a cost officials estimated then of up to $40 million. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in 2011 that the actual bid came in at $21.4 million.