It was 6:45 last Tuesday morning when I took the wrong exit on I-285.
I had passed Spaghetti Junction and was in Gwinnett County. I managed to exit onto Jimmy Carter Blvd. and then got turned around and headed south on I-85.
Then I saw it. It was on my left, the “Hot Lane.”
It was as empty as the pictures on TV. There wasn’t a car in sight. It was the perfect place for a morning jog or a game of marbles. What a waste of asphalt-covered Georgia clay.
The Georgia Toll Authority, which is a creation of and controlled by the governor, created this disaster and will not fix it. They may be able to tweak it a little but no fix is in sight. No Republican governor will admit that he had made a mistake this big.
It could be an ego thing. It could be an actual belief in that free market ideology thing that they claimed would improve traffic. It could be that Republicans don’t give campaign contributions back to road builders and their public/private toll operator friends.
If the two “Hot Lanes” aren’t going to be used for cars, there is a solution that could make some folks happy. Not long ago, these two lanes were a grassy medium. Let the road builders dig up the asphalt and replace it with dirt. Next, let the Gwinnett garden clubs select the flowers and shrubs to be planted in the medium.
The road builders will be happy because they get an extra payday. Our governor will take credit for the change that makes more sense than free market toll roads with variable tolls. Commuters won’t be worse off than they are at the moment and at least they can look at the pretty flowers while they are stuck in traffic, and no one at the capitol cares about them anyway.
Cobb County is the next target of “Hot Lane” mania. Millions of dollars on I-75 and I-575 to create lanes to jog and play marbles which will then become grassy mediums. Bill Waldrop grows and sells the loveliest daylilies. I hope Cobb garden clubs select some of them for our new green mediums next to our grid-locked interstate.
We have gone a decade without any transportation leadership from the Governor’s office and when something is finally done, our governor gives us a calamity of biblical proportions.
Thank goodness for the Transportation Investment Act or T-SPLOST. The governor has no control over it. It is designed by the Atlanta Regional Commission and our local elected officials. Commuters handle the funding by voting to create a 1% transportation tax next year. It won’t be a magic wand but it will get us going in the right direction.
With the coming “Hot Lane” gridlock on I-85, I-75, and I-575, the reasonable transportation improvements in the T-SPLOST will be much appreciated.