100,000th Peach Pass issued

11:10 AM, Nov 3, 2011   |    comments
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BUFORD, Ga. -- The Express Lanes on Interstate 85 are marking a major milestone.

The State Road and Tollway Authority issued their 100,000th Peach Pass last week.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: I-85 Express Lanes

The recipent, Fred Fridinger of Buford, said the pass has already eased his commute.

"I participate in an employee van pool which I take to and from work most days, but on occasion I need to drive my car to work depending on my schedule or if I need to go to another facility," Fridinger said in a statement. "Before, this meant fighting the traffic either driving down or going home on I-85 in the non-HOV lanes; however now, with the Peach Pass, I can use the HOT lane when I drive alone without that fuss or muss. I love it!"

Many Metro Atlantans have been far less enthused, criticizing the Express Lanes as being too costly for average commuters and clogging traffic in the non-toll lanes.

"We're spending more gas and more time and more money on the roads than ever before in Gwinnett County," Howard Rodgers, who started a Stop the HOT Lane petition, told 11Alive News last month.

Within days of the Express Lanes' opening on Oct. 1, Gov. Nathan Deal called for lower tolls and additional access points to the Express Lanes.

SRTA said usage of the Express Lanes has already tripled since then.

"Express Lane usage continues to grow and tracks consistently with our prediction of 10 percent of our customer base utilizing the lane daily," SRTA's Executive Director Gena L. Evans said in a statement. "100,000 Peach Passes and 10,000 trips! We are very encouraged by both!"

The state is hoping another change will make the Express Lanes even more accessible. SRTA has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Transportation to reduce the number of occupants needed for a free ride in the Express Lanes from three back to two.

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