Dismantling of GA 400 toll plaza takes big step forward

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Ga. 400 could be toll free by Thanksgiving

The end of toll collection on GA 400 will start on Nov. 21, weather permitting. Demolition of the toll plaza will begin in January, state transportation officials announced Tuesday.

Officials also announced that the firm selected from among eight bidders to tear down the toll plaza — a year-long project projected to cost $3.5 million — is Southeastern Site Development Inc. of Newnan. The company could start setting up operations at the site as early as next month.

“I acted as quickly as the state’s contractual obligations allowed to bring down the GA 400 toll,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in a prepared statement. “I pledged during my campaign for governor that I’d bring down the toll as the state promised commuters it would do when it opened the toll more than two decades ago. Today’s announcement is a big step toward making that happen.”

Completed in 1993, the GA 400 extension is used by about 119,000 people every weekday. At 50 cents per vehicle, the toll generates about $59,000 per day. The collected tolls have been used to pay down bond debt, operate and maintain the road, and fund overall operations for the State Road and Tollway Authority.

In July 2012, Gov. Deal promised the state would pay off its bond debt and end tolls on GA 400 by December 2013.

The date for ending toll collection has been tentatively set for Thursday, November 21, a week ahead of Thanksgiving, to lessen the impact on holiday travel. However, inclement weather could push back the ending date to November 22 or 23.

Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said his department will work with the contractor and with State Road and Tollway Authority staffers to ensure the toll plaza removal process will not unduly impede traffic flow. No heavy demolition work is expected to take place during the winter holidays.

Preliminary plans call for traffic to shift into three general purpose lanes where motorists currently use the electronic tolling lanes in October 2013. Once the cash booths and the overhead structure overhead are removed, traffic will shift over again so that the rest of the toll plaza can be dismantled, and then shift back to its usual path.

For drawings and more detail on the project, go to www.georgiatolls.com/programs/ga-400/.