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HOT lanes cause congestion on side roads | News

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HOT lanes cause congestion on side roads

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. -- They are angry, confused and frustrated. Gwinnett County commuters are growing more and more frustrated as the state tries to figure out how to make the new toll lanes on I-85 work best for them.

But rather than solutions, more problems seem to be cropping up. A side effect to the backups on the interstate is that side roads are getting more congested.

Jason Waldon's frustration began when the state changed the rules on who could use the HOT lane for free. He used to carpool with a co-worker in the HOV lane. Now if he wants to use the HOT lane, he has to pay, something he refuses to do.

His frustration grew when he gave up on the backups in the general purpose lanes and tried to find an alternate route. "And we're like we'll try alternate routes, and the traffic on the road was just backed up, and it was backed up beyond belief as well," Waldon said.

11Alive News checked with the Gwinnett County Transportation Department to see if what Waldon and other commuters were saying was true: that side roads along the interstate were filling up with commuters bailing off the interstate.

"We have noticed an increase in traffic on our arterial routes," said Kim Conroy, the Transportation Department's Acting Director.

Conroy said engineers who monitor those arterial roads from a traffic center on a daily basis say it's not Waldon's imagination. Engineers have seen a noticeable increase in traffic on roads like Buford Highway, Satellite Boulevard and Lawrenceville Highway.

Conroy said it's too early to take any permanent measures. "Those are some things you really want to gauge more over time as what the increases are, so that you're not constantly changing the traffic signal timing based on daily or weekly demands," he said.

He said they'll probably monitor those roads for a month to see if traffic increases or decreases as more people use the HOT lanes. Conroy said they will adjust traffic lights on those arteries to adapt.