The South Metro Express Lanes on I-75 in Henry and Clayton counties have been open for just six months, but they’re already proving to be a big hit with commuters.
The two reversible toll lanes opened in late January and had seen more than 1 million trips by the end of July. That number is considerably higher than what was projected by the State Road & Tollway Authority (SRTA), which operates the lanes.
The price of the toll varies based on traffic condition to ensure reliable trip times. The lanes are free for transit buses and registered vanpools, encouraging alternative commuting.
The South Metro Express Lanes are part of a network of managed toll lanes being built by the Georgia Department of Transportation that will one day include most major interstate highways in the Atlanta region.
The goal: providing a faster and more reliable commute for those who pay a toll, ride transit or use a vanpool.
Here are some questions ARC had about the South Metro Express Lanes, with answers provided by the State Road & Tollway Authority:
Q: Are the lanes being used as much as expected?
A: They are exceeding expectations. SRTA initially projected 6,000 trips average weekday trips after six months of operation. The actual number as of the first six months is more than 7,500.
Q: Do you expect those numbers to keep rising?
A: The Express Lanes can be considered to be in a ramp-up period for at least a year. These are the first reversible Express Lanes in Georgia, so it will take some time for drivers to get used to the new concept. Volumes should continue to rise steadily as more and more drivers begin to experience the benefits of reliable trips in the lanes. The south side of the region is growing quickly, as is the amount of freight traveling in this corridor. These lanes were built these to accommodate future needs as well as today’s needs.
Q: How much are the tolls on I-75?
A: The tolls range from $0.10 to $0.90 per mile, with a minimum toll charge for any trip of no less than $0.50. The actual toll charge a customer pays is set using the same dynamic pricing methodology used to calculate toll rates on the I-85 Express Lanes in Gwinnett County. Technology allows the tolls to adjust based on demand and traffic conditions in the corridor in order to maintain free-flow travel and reliable trips through the lanes.
Q: Where are the lanes located?
The Express Lanes run approximately 12 miles along I-75 in Henry and Clayton Counties extending from SR 155/McDonough Road to SR 138/Stockbridge Highway. Entry and exit points are located at SR 155, Hampton Road (SR 20), and Jonesboro Road (SR 81), as well as at SR 138 and at I-675. The lanes are barrier separated from the general purpose lanes and will allow vehicles to travel towards Atlanta during the morning commute and out of town in the afternoon.
Q: What other Express Lane projects are in the works?
A: Two more reversible lanes are currently under construction along I-75 north of I-285, and one is being built along I-575. The existing lanes on I-85 in Gwinnett are being extended an additional 10 miles north. There are also plans to build additional Express Lanes along Georgia 400, across the top end of I-285 from the I-20 interchange on the west side to the I-20 interchange on the east side, and along I-20 East in DeKalb County.