Georgia Senate has approved a measure that calls for a study to determine
whether to let commuters use emergency lanes and paved shoulders during certain
bill, which previously passed the House, now moves to Gov. Sonny Perdue for
by Rep. John Lunsford, R-McDonough, HB273 would encourage – but not require –
the Georgia Department of Transportation to study the use and implementation of
so-called “flex auto lanes” for congested highways in the state.
flex lanes would be used only in certain hours, such as morning and evening
rush hours, and never for more than eight hours a day.
feel that Georgians – predominately in the metro areas – need some relief from
the congestion,” Lunsford recently told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Is it a permanent fix? The answer is: No. But we feel it is a pretty good
would need federal permission to implement the program on interstates and major
highways that were built with federal funds.
programs are already in effect in Connecticut, Washington state and Virginia.
and Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Dallas, a bill co-sponsor, conceded there have
been no feasibility or safety studies done in Georgia but argued that using
emergency lanes and shoulders, where possible, is a quicker, cheaper way to
untangle traffic than widening the highways.
effort ran into some initial skepticism from state transportation officials.
Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl told the newspaper when the bill was introduced
that he had reservations that extend to air quality issues and the cost of
reconstructing emergency lanes to handle more traffic, estimated at $1.8
billion per mile. He said using the lanes for traffic would make clearing
accidents more difficult and would leave stranded vehicles without a safe place
Kenn, president of Georgians for Better Transportation, said his group thinks
the idea has merit.
don’t think it’s something you want to discount out of hand,” Kenn said. “It’s
obviously been applied in some other states with some success.”
bill would also allow solo drivers to use high occupancy vehicle lanes, or HOV
lanes, on the weekends. Lunsford said the lanes should be open to all drivers
when there isn’t much traffic.