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New entrance opens today on I-85s southbound HOT lane
Express Lane access point added south of Ga. 120
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This morning's Peach Pass-bearing commuters will have a new entrance to Interstate 85's Express Lane as they travel south toward Atlanta.

Georgia Department of Transportation workers labored Sunday to create a 4,500-foot access point featuring dashed lines south of the Ga. 120/Boggs Road overpass.

Motorists approaching the access point will see a ground-mounted sign and a changeable message sign that will display the toll rate for the nearest exit and the last exit in the 16-mile Express Lanes stretch.

Construction on a permanent access point will begin later in the spring.

"We are pleased to announce this new access point as (officials) have worked tirelessly to evaluate and select the safest and most viable southbound access point in that area," said Gena L. Evans, executive director of the State Road and Tollway Authority.

"We will continue to monitor and make adjustments to enhance the performance of this temporary solution as we move toward implementation of the permanent access point later in the spring."

The Express Lanes, which opened in October, enable drivers who have a Peach Pass sticker, or transponder, fixed to their windshield to travel without the congestion of other lanes but for a toll based on the level of traffic snarl.

Fees are waived for those driving motorcycles, alternative-fuel cars with proper license plates and vehicles carrying three or more people. The southbound and northbound lanes run from Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County to Chamblee-Tucker Road in DeKalb County.

Video cameras and Department of Public Safety officers watch for violators, and tickets will be issued for breaking Express Lane rules.

The Express Lanes, also known as high occupancy toll, or HOT, lanes, have drawn a fair amount of criticism since their opening.

At first, they were sparingly used, creating even more congestion along I-85. Motorists also resented a toll system on a road that's already paid for, with state officials saying the revenue would be used "to defray the costs of construction, operations and maintenance of the lanes."

Earlier this month, the tollway authority announced that the toll range would be 1 to 90 cents per mile, instead of 10 to 90 cents per mile.

"Now, motorists using the Express Lanes during off-peak hours could pay as low as 16 cents for the full distance of an Express Lanes trip," Evans said.

The state also plans to soon offer live streaming of key toll rate signs.