Georgia 316 Toll Proposal

Anytime I have a promotion hanging in the balance I like to do something that will guarantee I don’t get it (and it worked). This year I decided to weigh in on the current “public-private initiative” for a private company to finance and build improvements to SR 316 to Athens. They would pay for this by charging tolls and it would cost something like $8 to drive from Atlanta to Athens using SR 316. If you want, you can still comment on this proposal (for two more weeks), but only if you agree with me. I wrote, not as a DOT employee, but a guy whose brother and family live in Athens. I sent it to the Commissioner of the DOT but found out later that it was supposed to go to who is the Chief Engineer (and my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss). They sent me a nice form letter a few days later. I also cc’d the e-mail to my State Representative. I sent the e-mail on a Saturday (not at work) and within a few hours she had responded by e-mail and said she would bring it up when she met with the DOT board the following week. She also asked if I supported a higher gas tax and I replied “Of course!”

Dear Commissioner Linnenkohl,

I am writing as a tax-paying voter in Georgia to express my opposition to any private-public partnership that takes away roads that are currently free and replaces them with toll roads. In particular, I am opposed to the proposal to convert SR 316 into a toll road even though the current roadway was built using (a lot of) taxpayer money and is currently free today.

If a private group would like to add lanes and charge for those and there are no state funds available for such improvements, then I might feel differently (though if there is a pressing need for any route in Georgia I would have to seriously wonder why the DOT can not provide it). But it is just wrong to take away lanes so that a private group can start charging a toll to use a facility that the taxpayers already paid for.

Thank you for your consideration on this matter.

2 thoughts on “Georgia 316 Toll Proposal

  1. Isn’t it the developers of the land around 316 that is the force behind this initiative? (I don’t buy the safety arguments.) Perhaps 316 can be free, but there can be tolls on future mall exits only!

    (Did this really directly affect the promotion? If so, consider the private sector where you get paid more to speak out and stir things up.)

  2. I don’t think it affected the promotion (though the timing is suspect). I kind of doubt they even knew I was an employee, which is a nice thing about the large faceless bureaucracy where I work.

    The people behind it aren’t developers but the contractors who will build it and the people brokering the deal. There may be some development angles at work since there will be a lot of money riding on where the interchanges are put in (and where they aren’t). I’m afraid that what will happen is the DOT will end up in a contract with these guys that will have to be cancelled and the guys will say they are due all of their profits even though they didn’t build anything.

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