Deal unable to manuever around road block
This one might go in the category of campaign photos gone wrong.
During the 2010 campaign for governor, candidate Nathan Deal stood near the Ga. 400 toll holding a sign that read "Closed.”
Deal promised in a June 22, 2010, news release that "he"ll move quickly as governor to bring down the Georgia 400 toll before the end of 2011.”
"The state has collected more than enough money to pay for the bonds for the highway,” Deal said in the statement. "We are now using the tolls of Georgia 400 drivers to pay for other road projects. That"s not fair to the commuters in north Fulton and Forsyth counties. They"ve carried more than their fair share.”
It"s December, Deal is concluding his first year as governor, and the 50-cent toll is still here.
As some readers may remember, the State Road and Tollway Authority Board, with then-Gov. Sonny Perdue as its chairman, voted in September 2010 to extend the toll until 2020 in order to build projects along the Ga. 400 corridor. The potential projects include connector ramps at Ga. 400 and I-85. The board instructed the authority to sell bonds to fund various projects based on expected revenue from the toll. The bonds were sold Dec. 1, before Deal took office.
Some members of the Georgia Legislature proposed a bill earlier this year to end the toll. The legislation stalled when the tollway authority had concerns about the bill"s legality.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson told us earlier this year that the September 2010 vote precluded his boss from following through with his promise.
"It would be an abrogation of a contract,” Robinson said.
Unfortunately for the Deal camp, it put out the news release and the photo three months before that vote. Bad timing for Deal.
For this promise, Deal gets a rating of Promise Broken.
Deal promise encounters road block
Published March 8, 2011
The words from Nathan Deal last year were Reaganesque.
"As governor, I'll swing the sledgehammer to bring down the Buckhead Wall,” Deal said in a June 22 news release.
Deal was referring to the Ga. 400 toll. Deal, like many motorists, wants it gone.
The first sentence of Deal"s news release says he will move quickly to "bring down the Ga. 400 toll before the end of 2011.”
"We are now using the tolls of Ga. 400 drivers to pay for other road projects. That's not fair to the commuters in north Fulton and Forsyth counties. They've carried more than their fair share,” Deal added.
Candidate Deal even held a sign with the word "closed” in front of the tollbooths.
The 50-cent toll was originally scheduled to be eliminated this summer when the construction bonds were paid off. But in September, the State Road and Tollway Authority Board, with then-Gov. Sonny Perdue as its chairman, extended the toll until 2020 in order to build projects along the Ga. 400 corridor. The potential projects include connector ramps at Ga. 400 and I-85. The board instructed the authority to sell bonds to fund various projects, based on expected revenue from the toll. The bonds were sold Dec. 1, before Deal took office.
Last week, a state Senate committee decided to table Senate Bill 97, which is aimed at ending the toll sooner. The tollway authority had concerns about the bill"s legality, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution"s Ariel Hart reported.
Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said the September vote hampered Deal"s efforts to follow through on his goal to end the toll.
And now that the bonds have been sold, Robinson said, "it would be an abrogation of a contract.”
Although a similar bill is in the House, it appears any effort to get any legislation ending the toll this year will be difficult. For that, we believe that this is a campaign promise that is Stalled.
Deal for governor news release, June 22, 2010
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Ga. 400 toll survives Senate meeting,” March 3, 2011
Georgia Senate Bill 97
Georgia 400 improvement projects
Telephone interview with Brian Robinson, communications director for Georgia, March 6, 2011
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Ga. 400 tolls to be extended to 2020,” Sept. 24, 2010