The future of I-75 express lanes? Look to I-85, state says

The new I-75 South Metro Express Lanes were lightly used Monday. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

The new I-75 South Metro Express Lanes were lightly used Monday. JOHN SPINK /JSPINK@AJC.COM

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Monday, relatively few people used the new I-75 South Metro Express Lanes during their first morning rush hour in operation. The state won’t have official statistics until next week, but at times you could imagine you were the only person driving on the new toll lanes Monday morning.

But state officials are confident that will change over time. One thing that gives them confidence: their experience with the I-85 express lanes in Gwinnett County.

In 2011, when they opened, drivers took only about 7,000 trips on the I-85 lanes on an average weekday, according to Chris Tomlinson, executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority. Today, drivers take nearly 29,000 trips on an average weekday.

Tomlinson expects similar growth on the new I-75 lanes in Clayton and Henry counties. The price of the toll lanes depends on the amount of traffic – the more traffic, the higher the toll (though they’re free to drivers with a Peach Pass for the first two weeks).

Initially, Tomlinson expects the toll to be as low as 10 or 15 cents a mile. Eventually, he believes a typical rush-hour toll will be 35 cents a mile – or about $4 one way to ride the full 11.5-mile stretch of lanes.

You can read more about how the lanes fared Monday here and find out how they fit into Georgia’s plans for metro Atlanta highways here.

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