Money grubbing bureaucrats find they didn’t need to extend GA 400 tolls after all

According to the article Ga. 400/I-85 to be rebuilt, but was new toll needed?  in the AJC:

… for Ga. 400 toll payers who once expected the toll to expire this year, the congestion relief will be bittersweet.  As they now continue paying the toll for another decade to fund the interchange project and others, there is a new kicker. The bid the state accepted Friday for the project is far lower than the state estimated it would be when it made the case that the toll had to be extended.

So low, it raises the question of whether the toll extension was necessary in the first place.

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted at the time that the toll authority expected to have $42.5 million  in excess toll reserves at the conclusion of the original toll, meaning that the state did not need to extend the  toll to pay for the  I-85/Ga. 400 interchange. However, Perdue, who chaired the authority as governor, replied that not just those projects, but others  along the corridor needed to be done, too.

If bids on all 11 of those Ga. 400 projects — estimated by SRTA last fall at a total of $67 million — come in at the same low rate under the estimates, the state wouldn’t need the new toll to build any of them.

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Gena Evans, director of the toll authority, told a legislative panel earlier this year that eliminating the toll could impair the state’s bond rating as well as confidence with investors in public-private toll projects.

Ms. Evans neglected to mention that removing the toll would also impair her ability to collect a six figure salary as the state’s head toll collector if the tolls stopped as promised.

As a wise man once said,”Once you vote to give the government your money they will do with it what they damn well please.” Remember this any time  government asks you for permission to take more of your money.

Georgia Legislators could use a refresher on Barn Doors and Horses

The AJC reports that Georgia legislators are trying to stop the extension of tolls on GA 400 but it looks like a futile effort since the State Road and Tollway Authority has already pocketed the money. The time to stop that travesty was before SRTA voted to keep their bureaucratic jobs funded for the foreseeable future. But unfortunately the North Fulton political delegation didn’t think to close the barn door until SRTA had already taken millions of taxpayer dollars out for a ride. 

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I appreciate representative Jones’ attempt to correct this money grab by SRTA. But I would have expected a politician from Georgia’s horse country to know better than leave the barn door open while SRTA director, Gena Evans, was looking for a way to justify her six figure salary.

But if elected officials are serious about this effort then it should make SRTA’s upcoming town hall meetings next month very interesting. SRTA will have a public comment opportunity on Wednesday, January 5th, hosted by the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce at 11605 Haynes Bridge Road, Suite 100, Alpharetta, GA 30009. I encourage everyone to come out and join the fun.

[1/4/11 Ed. note: Yesterday a commenter pointed out that I failed to include the times of the town hall meeting so please note that according to the SRTA website the meeting will be held from 4:00 -7:00 p.m.]