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Unlike traffic, turnout is low
Few come to see 400 toll projects
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A map details potential improvements to Ga. 400 in Forsyth County. The purple line represents widening from McFarland Pkwy. to Hwy. 20; the red line shows GRTA Xpress bus service on Ga. 400; the light blue line shows Ga. 400 ITS and HERO expansion from McFarland Pkwy. to Hwy. 20; and the dark blue line represents a Ga. 400 northbound third transition lane extension at McFarland. - photo by For the Forsyth County News

How to comment

Missed the local meetings? There are other ways to comment on Ga. 400 corridor improvement projects:

• Mail written comments to: Ga. 400 Improvement Projects, P.O. Box 7278, Atlanta, GA 30357.
• Visit www.georgiatolls.com for more information.


Fewer than 20 people offered comment about future Ga. 400 projects during an open house earlier this week.

Revenue from an extension of the 50-cent toll by the State Road and Tollway Authority of Georgia, authorized in September, will be used to pay for transportation projects along the corridor.

Through Jan. 7, the authority is gathering feedback from motorists on what projects they would most like to see the extension fund.

John Cunard, Forsyth County director of engineering, said the public’s involvement could influence how the authority prioritizes the projects and funding.

The majority of attendees Tuesday were county employees who came to the open house at Cunard’s urging.

Cunard said the low public turnout could be attributed to several factors, from lack of awareness and concern to the frigid weather.

“It may give the impression that everybody’s in favor,” he said. “For projects along the corridor of Ga. 400, why would anybody be opposed? They don’t want to sit in traffic.”

Then again, it could have been that very same traffic that prevented more county residents from attending the open house Tuesday night.

During sessions Tuesday at the Forsyth County Administration Building and Wednesday at Pinecrest Academy, posters detailing the 12 top proposed projects filled the room.

Authority and state Department of Transportation staff answered questions about the proposed projects.

Three other open houses are planned in other counties through which 400 passes, including Fulton.

One project contained to Forsyth is the preliminary engineering for the proposed widening of Ga. 400 from McFarland Parkway to Hwy. 20. The design work, estimated to cost $4 million, could be completed by 2013.

It has not been determined if the actual widening could be paid for by toll revenues, said Malika Wilkins, the authority’s director of communications.

Another toll project proposes extending the third transition lane about 0.75 miles north past its current end near McFarland Parkway to “address the merging bottleneck of Ga. 400 northbound traffic.”

That project is estimated to cost $3 million and construction could be completed by 2012.

Other projects involving Forsyth include preliminary engineering for a high occupancy toll lane study from I-285 to McFarland Parkway; extending information technology north into Forsyth; and increasing routine maintenance along the corridor.

Widening Ga. 400 has been a priority for many county residents, Cunard said.

“Since they’re going to extend the lease, it’s a good thing they’ve got a list of projects like this,” he said.

All of the proposed projects could use toll revenue, though  DOT spokesman David Spear said there may be “other potential funding mechanisms.”