SHARECOMMENTMORE

ATLANTA -- Georgia's HOT lanes experiment will mark its one-year anniversary at the end of the month. It's still controversial. "It's still not alleviating overall drive times on the I-85 corridor," said state Sen. Curt Thompson (D-Norcross). About a year ago, he had lots of company.

But since then, much of the criticism has been muted as motorists have grown accustomed to paying to drive on the fastest lane on the highway. Many even embrace it.

"I beat traffic most of the time. Whenever I hit the highway, I just go," said Gaylord Bakatukanda, who had a Peach Pass affixed to the windshield of his Cadillac Escalade. "And whenever people are stuck, I just go straight through that last lane. It's fast." Bakatukanda said it works "100 percent of the time" when he needs to cut through Interstate 85 traffic quickly.

State data shows that HOT lane use grew through this spring. It dropped over the summer, when traffic volume typically drops while school is out. In July, the average HOT lane trip cost$1.09.