In an effort to address a controversial issue with a single, stronger voice, organizers of three groups opposed to the controversial I-85 toll lanes have joined forces to create StolenLanes.org.
Victor A. Ramkisson of Against The Peach Pass, Howard Rodgers of Stop the HOT Lane! and Chris K. Haley of Stop Peach Pass hope to solidify the community’s opposition to the HOT (High Occupancy Toll) lanes.
According to StolenLanes.org, nearly 10,000 people have rallied behind the cause.
"The number of citizens represented by our combined coalition is a force to be reckoned with," said Rodgers in a released statement.
"The number of people opposed to the recent implementation of the HOT lanes keeps growing," added Victor Ramkisson. "This is not a problem that will go away without acknowledgement of the issue and a plan to correct it by SRTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation."
In the StolenLanes.org press release, Haley described the coalition as a way to better support the cause and show strength in numbers.
"While some government officials try to downplay the seriousness of the impact to the community, we're stepping up to be recognized," he said.
The coalition also voiced its collective support for an . The event will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17, at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.
StolenLanes.org has created a set of questions that will be sent to various state and elected officials. According to Haley, the questions represent the most popular questions asked by the public regarding the HOT lanes. These questions will be addressed at the forum prior to opening the floor to additional questions from the public. Questions include:
- What defines a success or failure of the HOT lanes along the I-85 corridor?
- Based on the current numbers, then doubling them to 21,000 trips per day is that enough traffic to justify the lanes? If so what will the expected toll be?
- If the HOT lanes are only meeting the expectations of an HOV lane why was there a need for the change?
- The opening of the HOT lanes seems to have cost more commuters than it has benefited, not just in tolls but in time lost with families, extra fuel consumption while idling in traffic, and unnecessary stress, how will that be addressed going forward?
- How has this change affected air quality around the corridor? Provide documentation including environmental impact study.
- What projects specifically are in line for the tolls collected from the area and what cities and counties will benefit from the collection of this implicit tax on North Georgia citizens?
- What are the dates initially set for the “test period” or “trial period” for the I-85 corridor?
- Is there a tax deduction for using the lanes?
- What is the expected start date for phase II? And will phase II begin prior to the end of phase one demonstration project? And will Phase ii convert more HOV lanes to HOT lanes, if so which ones specifically?
- Are the current tolls being collected into an escrow account until after phase one is considered a success? Who is responsible for the funds collected?
- Do the counties whose citizens mainly are paying the tolls get to keep a large specified percentage to improve their road congestion and decide themselves on road improvements?
- If the goal is to ease traffic congestion, why are they charging at off-peak times with no congestion on the interstate i.e. 2am in the morning with maybe 10 cars total in sight?
- What are the current breakdown numbers for Peach pass users and the breakdown of the peach passes that were issued? I.e... How many for motorcycles, 3 passenger vehicles, and how many are being used on GA 400 vs. I-85.