Opinion: Forsyth, Cherokee, Bartow should join Gwinnett in Outer Loop toll

The announcement last week that the Gwinnett Commission would suggest that a toll be used to finance the rest of the Sugarloaf Parkway loop took many by surprise. It shows that this body is willing to investigate new aspects of road building, including the possible use of tolls to pay for the connection between Interstate 85 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard near Sugar Hill.

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The use of a toll on this part of the four lane circular highway not only would be a new way to finance road-building in Gwinnett, but it would relieve the Gwinnett General Fund from the cost of this road construction, allowing monies to be spent for other services of the county.

We’re proud of the Commission for this suggestion. This is, indeed, providing the type of leadership we hope to get when we elect people to office.

Ask anyone who travels by automobile in the Northeast, and they know of toll roads. The web site, Financial Nerd, has listed the tolls on the Washington, D.C., to New York City route.

All said, it cost an automobile $38.55 in tolls driving the Washington-New York route.  But the cost is only $23.55 on the way south.

Toll roads have generally not been used much in Georgia. The first toll I remember was for the Torras Causeway from Brunswick to St. Simons Island. The cost was 25 cents going east. That toll was finally lifted when all those quarters paid for that roadway.

There was a toll at one time to cross over the Intracoastal Waterway to get over Jekyll Island. That, too, has been “lifted.” However, now the Jekyll Island Authority charges you $6 for a one day parking pass;  $28 for a seven day pass; and $45 for an annual parking decal, to get onto the state-owned island.

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Another more local toll is on Georgia Highway 400 from Buckhead to Interstate 285. That toll was once 50 cents each way, and toll booth were removed, but now requires a Peach Pass for payment. The essential toll is scheduled to be lifted in 2020, but who knows? This road has 120,000 vehicles on it each day.

Charges are being used on Express Lanes on I-85 and I-75, but that is not a toll, since all motorists are not required to use the lanes.

What is really needed is a true Outer Perimeter connecting I-85 near Buford to I-75 near Cartersville.

What we would hope would happen is that Forsyth, Cherokee and Bartow County should recognize the benefits that such a road would provide, and join with Gwinnett in making the entire stretch of road from I-85  to I-75 near Cartersville a four-lane toll road. Heavy traffic on this road would help it to be paid off quickly. It would be a feather in the four local governments’ cap, and solve a problem that the state refuses to solve.  In addition, it would essentially cost these governments nothing, since users would pay for the road.

Attaway, Gwinnett government, for stimulating thinking on this problem.

 

Elliott Brack, publisher, GeorgiaClipsGwinnettForum. Contact him at elliott@brack.net.