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"Pay-It-Forward" tolls reinstated on GA 400

11:31 AM, Aug 17, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- On Friday, the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) announced they would reinstate "pay-it-forward" tolls at the Ga 400 toll plaza.

This reinstatement comes at the request of Gov. Nathan Deal and went into effect immediately after the announcement.

About three weeks ago, the authority put an end to the practice after seeing an uptick in the number of drivers calling, concerned the toll worker pocketed their money.

Spokesman Bert Brantley said the authority investigated every complaint and found in most cases, the change was merely held to help someone further down the line, at the request of the recipients.

The toll booths have cameras, but no audio, so Brantley admits it wasn't always clear. To protect both the workers and drivers, the authority made the decision to put an end to the practice.

"Was it a miscommunication between the driver and cashier? Was it just them not seeing the pay it forward? It was really hard to come to any solid conclusions," said Brantley.

But it turns out, the fear of not doing something good was greater than the fear someone else might do something bad.

According to Christopher Tomlinson, Exec. Director at SRTA, "with only a few months left until the tolls are removed from GA 400, Governor Deal felt it was important that we look at the toll payment policy to see if there might be a way to reinstate this long-held tradition of courtesy payments."

The policy will remain in effect until the tolls are eliminated the week before Thanksgiving.

In a statement released Friday, Tomlinson said SRTA plans to work with their staff to devise a plan that protects cashiers from "erroneous complaints, while allowing customers to pay tolls for their fellow motorists, confident that other drivers will benefit from their generosity."

WXIA reporter Rebecca Lindstrom drove the toll for several hours, paying it forward each time to see what would happen to her change.

One toll worker refused to take the money and another asked if she could keep it to make up for the money she had already spent helping others that day.

"They don't have it or they don't have enough. I just give it to them," said the toll worker.

The alternative, according to Brantley is a $25 fine.

Lindstrom says all of the money was well spent, to see the cars passing with smiling faces and honks of gratitude.


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