Gridlock Guy: Georgians may soon be able to ‘cruise’ through many states

As I’ve mentioned many times in this column before, I’m a road trip kind of guy. I love jumping in my Jeep for a weekend trip to Florida, or packing the dogs and heading up north to visit my family in Connecticut and New York. Nothing clears my head better than a nice road trip. Unfortunately nothing gets me more aggravated on a road trip then having to sit through ridiculous “cash-only” lines at out-of-state tolls.

The cash-only lines, or in most cases, line (singular), jam up with out-of-towners who don’t possess that particular state’s “cruise-card.”

Well, good news is coming for road-trippers like you and me. Before the end of the year, your Georgia Peach Pass will be accepted at tolls throughout Florida and North Carolina.

“The states we are working with now, their citizens are accustomed to having a pass that will allow them to move on toll roads,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I think it simply makes sense that we accommodate each other.”

Eventually all states that have tolls will be required to use “interoperable” tolling systems. By Oct. 1, 2016 your Georgia Peach Pass will work in Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.

A majority of those states are on the “E-ZPass” system. Whenever I drive up north, I pay the price of the toll in cash, and usually a bigger price in time, just waiting to go through the lone cash lane. If you don’t have an E-ZPass, the wait can be mind-boggling.

Once our system is linked with the others, Georgia drivers won’t have to be second-class citizens at every toll plaza.

First up though, Florida and it’s 23 different toll roads.

“We are making good progress working with Florida to connect our systems,” said Bert Brantley, executive director at the State Road and Tollway Authority. “We believe that by the end of this year, Peach Pass holders will be able to use the ‘Sun Pass’ lanes in Florida.”

If you are planning to take a trip to Florida or North Carolina and don’t currently own a Peach Pass, you can now buy them at local Walgreen’s and CVS stores. SRTA announced that drivers can now use cash to purchase these Peach Passes instead of having to register for them using a credit card.

There is a $2.50 convenience fee for the full starter kit, and a $1.50 convenience fee for reloading the card. Users can load the card with anywhere between $20 and $500 depending on how much you plan on using the card.

I imagine a lot of travelers in the metro area who don’t use the Interstate 85 HOT-Express Lanes, but do travel out of state, might consider this cash charged Peach Pass to help ease their drives, especially in Florida.