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BUFORD: Hot over HOT lanes at town hall meeting | News

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BUFORD: Hot over HOT lanes at town hall meeting
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BUFORD, Ga. -- The Gwinnett County GOP held a town hall meeting in Buford Monday, and half the audience walked out in frustration. They were upset that their elected officials would not take direct questions from the audience.

The majority of the more than 200 Gwinnett County residents in attendance came to voice their opinion about the controversial I-85 HOT lanes.

The residents in attendance were asked to write down questions before the meeting started and then had to wait more than an hour through political speeches from state and local politicians before those questions were read.

When some of those in attendance tried to follow up with questions from the audience, they were told they would have to leave if they didn't follow the format.

"They bamboozled us," said Gwinnett County resident Robert Thompson. "It was strictly political; all they wanted to do is make political speeches."

If they're going to call a meeting, they need to hear the people," said Kevin Hadden.

Patricia MacMillan was upset that she couldn't question the answers that were given. "We had no right to talk any more once they had answered the questions," she said. "The questions that they had were basically all the same thing."

State Sen. Renee Unterman said she wasn't surprised by her constituents' response. Sen. Unterman said she is just as upset about how the HOT lanes are working. She stayed after the meeting to listen to comments. One included, "I just want you to keep pushing; 75,000 passes were issued as of Friday, and only 8,756 of those passes were used."

"I've heard from them loud and clear," Sen. Unterman said. "I know their anger, I know their frustration, I'm just sorry that they didn't stay until the very end and listen to the whole content of the meeting."

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