Mark Arum: Gridlock Guy

Commuters that use GA 400 are in the middle of the driving equivalent of a tax-free holiday. Toll-free on 400 until Friday at 8 p.m. One whole week of free driving between Sandy Springs and Buckhead. Woo-hoo! Right? Well, not to me.

If it was up to me we’d have more tolls. And more expensive tolls. I’d put tolls wherever an interstate crosses I-285. I would put one on I-75 at I-285 in Cobb and Clayton Counties. I’d put one on I-85 at I-285 in DeKalb and Fulton Counties. And I’d put one on I-20 at I-285 in Fulton and DeKalb Counties. One buck a pop. Each way.

Before you loosen up your typing fingers and fire me an angry email, let me explain why I’m for more tolls.

More tolls equals less driving. The more costly a trip is, the more thought one would put into making that trip.

More tolls equals more carpooling…hopefully. With the added expense of a toll, perhaps more people would look into carpooling with a friend, neighbor or co-worker. The more people car pool, the better traffic will be.

More tolls equals more telecommuting. With the extra cost of tolls, perhaps employers would be more willing to give their employees the opportunity to telecommute. If 20 percent of workers were allowed to telecommute imagine how much better your commute would be.

More tolls equals more money. Ever notice how many out of state license plates you see on cars when you drive on interstates in the Atlanta area? People from other states use I-75 and I-85 all the time driving through Georgia to other states and destinations. Unless they stop for gas here, they are using our roads free of charge. Nothing is going to prevent them from driving on our roads, so we might as well make a buck or two during their voyage. With the state in such a financial crunch, those extra dollars could mean a lot.

I would copy the model used by other states. If you go to New York you will see 10 EZ Pass Lanes (their version of Cruise Card lanes) and two cash lanes. This gives local drivers a huge home field advantage. Instead of waiting in the cash lanes, locals get to zip through the automated lanes. Therefore, we take out-of- staters out of the traffic equation. They get stuck in toll lines, while we move on down the road.

I would even make tolls cheaper for locals. When you charge up your Cruise Card (Peach Pass) you get a bonus deposit. Put in $100 and you get $125 in credit on your pass. That way your one dollar toll is really just 75 cents.

Those are my two cents. I’m ready for yours.