A photo of the toll booths on Georgia 400. Source: Wikimedia commons

Gov. Nathan Deal’s decision to end the tolls on Georgia 400 by the end of 2013 is prompting a variety of reactions from local officials.

The tolls were supposed to expire in 2011 but were extended to 2020.

The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, a self-taxing entity that leverages other funding to pay for transportation and infrastructure projects, said it supports the move.

“While the Perimeter CIDs benefitted from a great partnership with the toll authority, I understand the governor’s perspective on policy transparency and fully endorse his vision to move forward with alternative solutions and will be behind any of those strategic initiatives,” Perimeter CIDs President and CEO Yvonne Williams said.

Gordon Certain, president of the North Buckhead Civic Association, had a mixed response. As a member of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods, he lobbied the state to use toll money to pay for building an intersection allowing drivers to go from southbound Ga. 400 to northbound I-85.

He said the intersection project will move forward.

“I am really glad the tolls were collected to fund the badly needed ramp from southbound Georgia 400 to northbound I-85 and vice versa,” Certain said. “That was badly needed and it’s wonderful that is happening.”

But he thinks the state needs to find a way to pay for transportation projects long term. Deal’s move was widely seen as an effort to mute critics of a July 31 transportation referendum who used the previous extension of the tolls as evidence the state doesn’t keep its promises. If voters approve the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), it will impose a penny-sales tax over a 10 county area for 10 years to pay for transportation projects.

“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of sentiment for the TSPLOST,” Certain said. “Maybe it’ll pass, maybe it won’t. I don’t know. You can’t operate a modern city with no money for transportation.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com