ATLANTA (AP/WXIA/WAOK) — Gov. Nathan Deal has announced the end of tolls on Georgia Highway 400 by the end of next year.

The governor  tied the announcement to the metro Atlanta area’s upcoming transportation tax referendum on the July 31 primary ballot, calling the move a “good faith effort” to restore public trust in government spending. Opponents of the tax have raised concerns about how such funds would be handled.

Deal also pointed to one of the larger items on the region’s infrastructure wish list, which would put $400 million into a project at Ga. 400 and I-285 if the ballot measure passes.

“As I have said many times before, I inherited a situation where we could not bring down the gates immediately, and we face a situation where we would have to pay a penalty for early repayment,” Deal said Thursday. “Moving forward, we’ll need to continue to work on long-term solutions to congestion in the 400 corridor, and I look forward to doing that in a transparent fashion that commuters can trust.”

The toll was originally scheduled to come down in 2011, but in December 2010, the state issued new $40 million bonds tied to the toll revenue. The bonds will mature in June 2017, but the state can repay them without penalty after three years.

Deal’s proposal to take down the tollbooths must be approved by the State Road and Tollway Authority.


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