Many of those who travel Ga. 400 on a daily basis have cursed the name Sonny Perdue for the past two years, ever since he chose to extend until 2020 the collection of tolls that were supposed to end in 2011.
For many, Perdue’s actions solidified their belief that government can’t be trusted, and added even more aggravation to daily commutes that already were off the top of the frustration scale.
Last week, Gov. Nathan Deal took steps to make things better.
Deal announced Thursday that tolls scheduled to be collected until 2020 will be discontinued by the end of 2013.
Deal was not in the governor’s office when the decision was made to extend the tolls beyond 2011, and had promised to eliminate the cost for driving to and from downtown Atlanta on Ga. 400.
His decision to do so is certainly welcome news.
Many Georgians felt betrayed by Perdue’s actions on the tolls, and with good reason. The original toll was supposed to end once bonds issued for extending Ga. 400 into Buckhead had been retired. But when the time came to do so, the state reneged on its promise, continuing collecting money to pay for more road construction projects.
By doing so, state officials convinced many Georgians that their government simply could not be trusted to do what it promised, and that cynical perception has continued.
On Thursday, Deal referred to the decision to eliminate the tolls early as an effort to help restore trust in government. With a looming decision by Georgia voters on the TSPLOST, the governor also noted that the decision should boost public confidence in major construction projects.
It remains to be seen whether Deal’s promise to lift the tolls will have an impact at the TSPLOST vote, but there’s no doubt it will have an impact on thousands of local residents who battle the traffic into Atlanta and back each day.
Kudos to Gov. Deal for doing the right thing. We look forward to the day the bulldozers remove the toll booths and traffic flows without the necessity of quarters being tossed into metal bins.