NORTH FULTON, Ga. – After many long years, it’s official – the Ga. 400 tolls are coming down. At an information open house Sept. 24 at the offices of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, officials gathered to detail the demolition plans.
In July 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the state will pay off its bond debt and end the tolls on Ga. 400 by December 2013. The highway, a product of a public-private partnership, was to be paid off through the use of the tolls and when the debt was done, the tolls would end.
The tolls collect about $20 million a year.
Toll collections are scheduled to stop in the week before Thanksgiving of this year.
After that, crews will begin tearing down the toll plaza, said Malika Reed Wilkins, the director of marketing for the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA). Demolition will begin early next year.
“It’s not just a matter of stopping the tolls,” Reed Wilkins said.
Traffic will initially be shifted toward the center lanes, where the Peach Pass cards allow traffic. The toll booths will be closed to traffic while they are dismantled. Once that is done, traffic will shift to the middle of the plaza so the equipment of the Peach Pass and the awning can then be removed. Finally, traffic will again be shifted toward the middle and the outer lanes torn up and grass put down. The administration building will remain, but will be turned over to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
A tunnel runs underneath the plaza, allowing employees to pass from toll booth to toll booth without fear of traffic. That tunnel will be filled in with concrete.
The money the tolls collected paid for upkeeps and upgrades of the highway. Without that money, an already cash-strapped system will have to find new sources of revenues. Ga. 400 is the only toll road in the state, however the demolition of the toll will not see the end of SRTA. The department oversees the I-85 and I-75 express lanes. However with the closing of the tolls, SRTA said about 50 jobs will be lost.
Visit www.peachpass.com for more information.