Photo courtesy of AP Graphics
ATLANTA -- Commuters who travel Georgia 400 are preparing for the free ride they'll get beginning after the evening rush hour on Friday.
The Georgia DOT says it could happen as early as 7 or 7:30 p.m., Friday. Soon after, crews will alter traffic in preparation for life after the toll plaza.
"I don't know that they'll be huge backups but, better if you can avoid the area. Go a different way just for this one night," said the Georgia Tollway Authority's Bert Brantley.
120,000 drivers a day have traveled through the Georgia 400 toll plaza for the past twenty years, dropping $60,000 a day into the Tollway Authority's coffers.
Once the toll ends, Georgia 400 at the toll plaza will be reduced to one lane in each direction until sometime Saturday morning.
Crews will finish their re-striping in order to transform the cruise lanes from two to three. Those lanes will become the permanent way of travel on 400 after the toll plaza is demolished.
"What they'll see is a lot of signs that say no tolling," said Brantley. "They'll see signs saying stay to the left."
Michael Bent is one who is not celebrating the end of the tolls. His job at the toll plaza is ending after 17 years.
"If your job is going away, it's not something you enjoy or celebrate," said Bent. "But sometimes, change is good."
Monday morning's free ride will be the first true test of how traffic is handling the changes at the toll plaza.