Just like all metro Atlanta commuters, local elected officials and community leaders are pleased to hear there is finally a date set to bring the dreaded Ga. 400 tolls down once and for all.
On Tuesday, the State Road and Tollway Authority announced the last tolls would be collected Nov. 21.
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said she’s delighted with the news, saying the fee has been “so unfair” for many commuters.
“We have paid for Ga. 400 many times over,” Galambos said. “And most people who come down Ga. 400 get off at [Interstate] 285 and never have to pay a toll. … I think it’s been a very unfair toll and I’m delighted it’s coming off.”
When asked about the timeframe for removal, Galambos said simply, “The sooner the better.”
Sam Massell, former mayor of Atlanta and founding president of the Buckhead Coalition, said he felt the government has stuck to the original agreement on 400 — that the toll would end after new ramps crossing over Interstate 85 and 400 were completed before the toll was terminated — but fears it will lead to an increase in traffic now after costs are eliminated.
“It might decrease traffic on some surface streets, which would be appreciated,” Massell said of the typically clogged major arteries including Piedmont, Peachtree, Lenox and Roswell roads. “A lot of Ga. 400 is through traffic.”
Roswell Mayor Jere Wood said he’s glad to see Gov. Nathan Deal keeping his campaign promise to close the tolls.
“As an elected official, we are usually bundled with a lot of other elected officials,” Wood said. “It’s good to see others keeping their promise. When they don’t, it makes us all look bad.”
Wood said the timeline for the toll closure is not as important as Deal following through with it.
“I don’t think it’s the 50 cents that bothers people. I think that there was a promise made and if the promise is kept, that’s what’s important,” he said.
But when it comes to traffic concerns, Wood said he did not think commuters should expect much change.
“I think there’s traffic today and there will be traffic tomorrow,” Wood said. “If they’re expecting the world to end or traffic to disappear, neither one is going to happen.”
Alpharetta Mayor David Bell Isle did not return messages to his office seeking comment.