Traffic returning to metro Atlanta toll lanes

The State Road and Tollway Authority says traffic is picking up in metro Atlanta toll lanes. The agency expects to collect more toll revenue in the coming year. (File photo by HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM)
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The State Road and Tollway Authority says traffic is picking up in metro Atlanta toll lanes. The agency expects to collect more toll revenue in the coming year. (File photo by HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Metro Atlanta traffic took a nosedive at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s been creeping back to normal in recent months as businesses reopen and workers head back to the office.

One measure of that return to normal: traffic on the region’s toll lanes is rising steadily.

Traffic in the lanes is about 77 percent of levels seen in 2019, the last full pre-COVID year, according to Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority. He said the increase in traffic has accelerated in recent months.

As a result, SRTA expects to collect more toll revenue. On Wednesday, the SRTA Board of Directors approved a fiscal year 2022 budget that includes $39.5 million in toll revenue – up from about $34 million in 2019.

Tomlinson attributed rising toll revenue to increased use of the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, as well as to rising traffic volumes generally across the region.

“Traffic is coming back,” Tomlinson told the board Wednesday.

Gov. Brian Kemp, who chairs the board, was not surprised.

“If traffic on the Downtown Connector is any indication, I agree with your figure,” Kemp said.