By Collin Kelley
Consider it an early Christmas present of sorts. The toll booths on Ga. 400 are scheduled to shut down, weather permitting, on Nov. 21 – just in time for the beginning of the holiday shopping season.
Georgia Department of Transportation officials said motorists would begin to see preliminary work before the end of October, including removal of signage and re-striping of lanes.
The question on many Ga. 400 users’ minds is what will happen to traffic once the toll ends.
Christopher Tomlinson, executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority, said he has seen studies that show an increase in traffic, but it’s unpredictable until the road is open.
“There are others that say without having that stop-and-go caused by the toll, it will get better,” Tomlinson said in a recent interview.
Tomlinson also noted that the opening of the new connector ramps to I-85 also make traffic patterns more difficult to predict.
On the toll plaza itself, concrete barriers will be erected once the booths close. The barriers will funnel drivers traveling north and south into the former Peach Pass lanes.
Demolition of the toll plaza will begin early next year and will cost $4.5 million. Southeastern Site Development in Newnan has been selected for the job.
The public is invited to attend an open house session in Dunwoody on Oct. 24 to find out more details about the end of tolls on Ga. 400 and the eventual demolition of the toll plazas. The open house is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia, 4355 Ashford Dunwoody Road.
In Buckhead, GDOT plans for new I-85 connector ramps to open in January. About 60 percent of the work has been completed. Construction of bridge columns, deck installation and retaining walls is ongoing where Ga. 400 south divides at Sidney Marcus Boulevard. Motorists in the area can continue to expect construction delays, especially on weekends, as work progresses.