10 | Commentary
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Commentary Sharing and responding to your questions about the Ga. 400 Express Lanes Earlier this year, the Georgia Department of Transportation hosted five Public Information Open Houses to provide project information and solicit public comments on the State Route 400 Express Lanes project. We welcomed more than 1,200 attendees and received more than 500 comments. We are grateful to those who attended to provide this valuable feedback. Additionally, a number of questions were posed during and after these meetings. Georgia DOT is committed to responding to those questions and keeping the public informed. An official response is nearing completion and will be posted to the project webpage: dot.ga.gov/DS/GEL/ SR400. Many of you told us that you preferred transit alternatives over the proposed express lanes. Georgia DOT agrees that transit solutions are critical to the region and Georgia’s future. There is shared vision by MARTA, The ATL, Fulton County, State Road and Tollway Authority and Georgia DOT that the SR 400 Express Lanes will provide for transit opportunities in a new manner. This opportunity may be referred to as Express Lanes Transit (ELT). Georgia DOT is supporting this opportunity by constructing the Express lanes to accommodate future ELT stations along SR 400 that tie directly to MARTA’s North Springs Station. This work is being funded by $100 million of transit bonds, which were approved by the General Assembly and Gov. Nathan Deal in 2018. Think of the ELT future as an extension of MARTA’s Red Line minus the rails.
The express lanes provide reliable trip times for ELT riders, as well as for motorists who choose to use the lanes. The lanes are managed by dynamic, demand-based pricing to mitigate congestion in the lanes – as demand during peak hours increases, so does the price; as demand falls, the price falls. A network of express lanes on I-75, I-85, along I-285 and SR 400 will ultimately serve millions of motorists and transit users throughout the metro Atlanta region, providing reliable trip times to you, your neighbors and those in neighboring communities. Transit users will only pay their transit fare regardless of the price in the express lanes. Benefits of express lanes are proven. Four existing express lane corridors are currently in operation in Georgia. Since opening last September, travel times in the Northwest Corridor Express Lanes along I-75 and I-575 are 30 percent faster than the general-purpose lanes during peak travel times, and the general-purpose lanes are seeing travel as much as 20 mph faster during peak times. As a result, rush hours in Cobb and Cherokee counties have been reduced by over an hour during the morning and evening commutes, benefitting motorists and bus transit riders alike. More efficient and faster highways can mean fewer motorists bypassing those congested roads on surface streets in your community. The Georgia DOT has attended or held approximately 150 presentations and meetings to share information and seek input. These meetings have been attended by thousands of residents like you, and I’m
proud of the extensive efforts to work with the community. We’ve received comments reRussell McMurry, P.E., is garding commissioner of the the properGeorgia Department ty acquisiof Transportation. tion process, noise barriers and potential impacts to schools, access points, elevated structures and environmental questions. These comments are reviewed and we strive to address the concerns such to minimize all impacts. This is often an iterative process where one solution may cause another impact. Our goal is to achieve the best project with the fewest impacts. Express lanes, which provide improved mobility for users and non-users, can also serve as a backbone for future transit options -- and do so at the best value. For example, a similar 16mile investment for heavy rail in the corridor could cost as much as $500 million a mile, almost seven times the cost of the 400 Express Lane project, which also provides for a transit corridor. We pledge to continue providing the best information available throughout this process, which includes more public meetings. As the project’s design concepts develop, we will continue to release new information and continue to meet with stakeholders to ensure the best possible project is delivered for the region and Georgia.
Reporter Newspapers wins 15 Georgia Press awards Reporter Newspapers won 15 awards — including eight first-place honors in its division — in the Georgia Press Association’s 2019 Better Newspaper Contest, whose winners were announced May 31. The awards honored work that appeared in the Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs newspapers. The awards recognized all types of the Reporter’s journalism work, from opinion columns to newspaper design to in-depth reporting. The Reporter’s first-place honorees included: ■ Managing Editor John Ruch for Investigative Reporting for stories that revealed secret city discussions about affordable housing policies and north end redevelopment in Sandy Springs; and Business Writing for stories in the Perimeter Business section and an exposé of “safest cities” website rankings. Ruch
also won third place in Breaking News Writing. ■ “Robin’s Nest” columnist Robin Conte for best Lifestyle/Feature Column. She also won awards in the Humorous Column and Serious Column categories. ■ Photographer Phil Mosier for News Photo and Spot News Photo for work that appeared in the Dunwoody Reporter. ■ Creative Director Rico Figliolini for Page One design. He also won second place for Layout and Design. ■ The staff for Local News Coverage. ■ The staff for best Newspaper Website. Editor-at-Large Joe Earle, who writes the “Around Town” column, won second place in the Lifestyle/Features Column category. Staff writer Evelyn Andrews won third place in the Feature Writing cate-
gory for stories about efforts to preserve a historic African American church in Buckhead; the rehabilitation of the Atlanta History Center’s “Battle of Atlanta” Cyclorama painting; and a Sandy Springs Police Department program that rescues stranded motorists. Andrews was named a “Rising Star” earlier this year by the Atlanta Press Club in a separate contest. The Reporter staff also took second place in the General Excellence category. The GPA, founded in 1887, is an organization of Georgia newspapers. Its Better Newspaper Contest is statewide and was judged by members of out-of-state press associations. Entries were judged in seven divisions based on the newspapers’ circulation. Reporter Newspapers was judged in the division that includes weekly newspapers with a circulation above 15,000 and the GPA’s “associate media members.”