The long-awaited announcement to discontinue the toll came Thursday from Gov. Nathan Deal.
Beach, who is a Georgia Department of Transportation board member and president and CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, said the announcement was good news to those who travel through Atlanta on a daily basis.
“I praise the governor’s bold decision, and I’m proud of the close involvement the Georgia Department of Transportation played in bringing the toll to an end,” Beach said. “I can appreciate Georgia taxpayers’ doubt in many of our elected officials, but the governor’s office and GDOT stood firm in their commitment to relieving this tax for millions of travelers each year.”
Rogers also applauded the governor’s announcement but had a different view of GDOT’s involvement.
“Unfortunately the governor had to take action to correct the failure of the Georgia Department of Transportation Board, which voted in 2010 to keep collecting the tolls even after the original bonds had been paid in full,” Rogers said. “The failure of the DOT board seriously eroded the trust we have in our government. Today, Gov. Deal is taking positive steps toward restoring our trust.”
Deal said in making the announcement that Ga. 400 commuters have paid more than their fair share already.
“And this is the earliest we can bring it down without paying a penalty for early repayment of the bonds,” Deal said in a
statement. “When the Ga. 400 toll went up, the state of Georgia promised commuters that it wasn’t forever. If we don’t keep that promise, we lose the faith of the people.”
Deal said he will have the state pay off its bond debt Dec. 1, 2013 and the toll would be removed by the end of the year.
The announcement came two days after the group VoterGA presented 400 petitions to the governor asking him to remove the toll now that the original construction agreements have been repaid.
“We are encouraged that Gov. Deal has once again pledged to remove the toll so that all Georgia transportation projects are funded in an equal manner for all Georgians,” said VoterGA founder Garland Favorito. “But we are cautious knowing things can change just like before and the new pledge may not be honored either. Toll removal also requires a vote of the [State Road and Tollway Authority] board which has not yet occurred.”