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Old 10-16-2017, 02:28 PM
Status: "Our goose is cooked." (set 1 day ago)
Location: Atlanta, GA
529 posts, read 197,336 times
Reputation: 1129


The HOT (express) lanes are coming along on the crazy stretch of I-75 north of Atlanta. The south-end lanes have been completed for a while, with the toll initially set at 50 cents for the entire trip.

Couple of questions - when will the north-end HOT lanes be completed? And will the toll be set at a fixed rate, or will it be variable like the dreaded HOT lanes on 85? Some of those tolls are climbing up close to $10 at peak times - presumably because it's just a single lane and not two like the others are. Are they really going to put in these lanes along 285 without taking away existing lanes?

Personally, I think they're a waste, since simply adding lanes is way cheaper and easier, since you don't have to duplicate the shoulders and add dividing walls. Better yet, the money for this could have been used for mass transit.

My fear that we'll have segregated roads, one set for the rich able to pay exorbitant tolls, and the rest for the peasants, stuck in traffic with no hope of relief. Just take a look at the Washington, DC area to see what I mean - some of those tolls are rocketing past $20 on some days (!).

But if they keep the tolls at 50 cents, or even a couple bucks, I'll not complain too much. $20, I'm gonna howl like the rest of Atlanta.
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Old 10-16-2017, 06:10 PM
Location: Macon, GA
1,191 posts, read 1,674,103 times
Reputation: 1374
I have never seen the ones on the south side more than $.50.
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Old 10-17-2017, 07:10 PM
Location: Atlanta
6,648 posts, read 8,145,284 times
Reputation: 4511
They will all be variable.

How high will depend on demand. I-75N has many people and a degree of affluence, so I would expect prices to rise a bit. $10 is very much in the realm of possibility.

A few quips.

The I-85 HOT lanes will eventually be 2 lanes in each direction. The first phase was to convert the HOV lanes. With funding I-85N is slated to have actual HOV lanes constructed. The reason for the conversion is to switch to HOT, but also because the HOV lanes were growing just as congested and not serving their original purpose. It will take some time to achieve that

Personally, I agree we need to stick to cheaper options and i prefer the way I-85 is (with some future modifications). We should be spending less money on bridges, viaducts, extra shoulders, etc... To that I agree. The only thing is we need more slip lanes/ramps to make the transition between HOT lanes and general lanes smoother.

I think people will like I-75N better in that it will be user friendly for those using it to be completely separated, but what I like about I-85 better is it is easier for people to adjust between general lanes vs. HOT lane as they make calculated decisions to adjust to the price. The I-75N lanes... you kind have to pick in advanced. In fact, many have exits on different roads. There is no short-term adjustment to pricing... just long-term.

The reason that is important....

The lanes believe it or not... have a purpose beyond raising revenue. They are designed to mitigate congestion to a degree.

A freeway lane in good conditions allows 1,800 cars to pass a given point per hour. This can be affected by the roads grade, curves, frequency of exits, merging, driver behavior... and most importantly congestion.

There are speeds that are so fast where cars are so spread out fewer cars/hour will pass a given point per lane. Of course, this is fine... because demand is lower than capacity.

As more cars use the lane speed begins to drop, cars pace closer together, and we start to see this 1,800/cars/hour optimal efficiency.

The problem is as speed drops more and more... so does efficiency. If speeds get too low, then fewer than 1,800/cars/hour will pass a given point in a single lane. If the freeway is in complete stop-and-go mode the efficiency is very low.

The point of HOT is to try to keep some lanes moving at optimal efficiency no matter what. It is usually found between 40mph and 60 mph.

I'm not against adding more lanes, but before we have 10 lane wide freeways... we need to make sure there is a way to maintain efficiency for all the additional lanes we have beyond what is needed in off-peak periods.

In stop and go traffic you might only have 500-800 cars/lane/hour. This means a single lane at peak traffic can be carrying as many as 2-2.5 lanes worth of traffic compared to general lanes. If we keep widening roads based on traffic just in peak periods, then it is important to address the efficiency aspect.

Now the problems are... most people will dwell over the fairness of those who can pay their way vs. those who can't. Things also don't always work perfectly either. Overall HOT works, but they do not maintain complete 100% efficiency either.

That is the purpose of the variable tolling. In off peak hours, it doesn't matter if the lane goes used or not. Demand is lower than capacity. But in peak hours, the mission is to maintain as close to 1,800 cars/lane/hour as possible no matter how congested it gets or not. So if demand says $0.50 to keep the most traffic flowing, it will happen. If demand means $10 to keep the most traffic flowing, it will also happen.

In the long-long range, I would actually suppose converting 1 general purpose lanes to I-85N's 2 lane HOT network to have 4 general purpose lanes and 3 HOT lanes. It will probably help the tolls drop a bit by increasing tolled capacity, but it will increase efficiency. Politically... I find it doubtful it will ever happen.
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Old 10-18-2017, 08:22 PM
73 posts, read 123,557 times
Reputation: 49
Originally Posted by midgeorgiaman View Post
I have never seen the ones on the south side more than $.50.
I didn’t think they ever went over $.50 either, and I use them every day. I just looked at the app though, and it charged me $1.15 on oct 12 at 5:43pm. So I guess I will need to start paying more attention, instead of assuming $.50
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