Under a proposed 2021 budget, SRTA would rely on $10 million from the Georgia Department of Transportation to help plug the budget hole. It also will use about $3 million of its $8 million budget reserve. And it will cut travel, contracting and other expenses.
Of course, SRTA’s pain is motorists’ gain. In February, a full-length trip on the I-85 express lanes in Gwinnett and DeKalb counties could cost $15 at rush hour. Recently, it’s been about $4 – and Tomlinson said that’s a sharp increase from a month ago.
In the long run, Tomlinson believes traffic will return to local highways, and with it will come higher tolls and revenue. Fall traffic volumes – when schools are back in session – may offer clues as to how long that will take.
But with many economists predicting a lengthy economic recovery, relatively cheap tolls may be a reality for the foreseeable future.
“We hope the traffic comes back sooner than predicted,” Tomlinson told the Senate panel.