I have consistently and firmly advocated for the removal of the GA 400 tolls. I recently read many concerning news articles about suspending the tolls while millions are spent to upgrade the facilities. The postponement of the GA 400 toll for a few days or a week is a facade to fulfill a promise of removal, which is simply wrong and borders on offensive.
I’m an eternal optimist in life and government. In the 235 years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we have seen the best and worst of times. In the end, we always work to repair past mistakes and strive to make better decisions in the future. One day, I hope to tell my grandchildren how smarter minds finally prevailed when the promise to remove the toll was fulfilled.
This is a simple matter of trust. These actions are a perfect example of why citizens don’t trust their government. While well intentioned, I fear this ill-fated decision will undermine future transportation funding efforts and reasonable toll projects. If we cannot honor our word and remove the Georgia 400 toll, no voter on any future toll project will have confidence or trust. Make no mistake; future toll roads can be an important component to relieve congestion for new road construction. Removing the toll would be a perfect opportunity to rebuild a bond of conviction between voters and government.
In a time when the federal government is spending out of control and bending the constitution to force socialized solutions, we try to separate ourselves. For example, I quickly point out to Georgia constituents that we have no deficit and a balanced budget. “Unlike Washington, we act and govern responsibly,” I say with pride. However, last year the State Road and Tollway Authority, with its majority appointed and not elected members, placed a massive tax increase on my constituents and betrayed their trust.
The upcoming I85/GA 400 interchange project, which benefits most people that do not pay the toll, has come in under budget. With ample reserves to cover this cost the reasonable and ethical answer is to remove the toll. Instead, SRTA will spend millions of your dollars to upgrade the toll facility. I am calling on my fellow legislators to join me in January and pass Senate Bill 97, a bill to mandate all toll extensions be approved by the General Assembly. Although some in other areas of the state may believe this does not directly affect their districts, the situation impacts all of Georgia because with bad precedence comes future inequality throughout our state.
In summary, it is never too late to do the right thing. I am calling on SRTA and my fellow elected leaders to stand up and right this wrong with me.
Additional dates and locations will be published soon. For more information, visit www.senatoralbers.com.
Sen. John Albers represents the 56th Senate District, which includes portions of North Fulton County. He may be reached at his office at 404.463.8055 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.