What's next for I-75/575 toll project? - CBS46 News

What's next for I-75/575 toll project?

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COBB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

With the state abruptly announcing it has scrapped plans to spend $1 billion on optional toll lanes along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties, many are wondering what the next step is.

"What happens next is we look for another way to relieve congestion in that corridor," said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Governor Nathan Deal. "The governor had expressed concerns about how this project was structured."

Unlike the High Occupancy Toll lanes along I-85, the I-75/I-575 project would have been paid for and built by private companies trying to make money. They would recoup their investment from toll revenues.

Georgia's Department of Transportation told CBS Atlanta the state has already spent $58 million on the project.

"Sounds like they wasted taxpayers' money," said Sarah King, who lives in Kennesaw.

Some think the state halted the I-75/I-575 project because of the controversy the toll lanes along I-85 have created.

The High Occupancy Toll lanes opened Oct. 1 and commuters have complained that they have caused traffic backups in the free lanes since few drivers want to pay the toll.

"I think the real reason that we're not proceeding forward with this is because of the I-85 HOT lanes and the severe public reaction that we saw from that," said Chris Haley, a co-founder of Stolen Lanes.org, a group dedicated to fighting the HOT lanes.

Some said the state had no choice but to end the costly toll project in the Northwest corridor.

"They feel like well, we've already invested $58 million in this and if we keep going, keep spending money and nobody uses this, the public's going to lose all faith in our judgment completely," said driver John Thompson.

However, the state said the toll project along the Northwest corridor is not completely canceled.

"The board remains committed to this very important project and will continue to seek options for that congested corridor of the region," said GDOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg.

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