During the project’s initial phase, Georgia committed to purchase the necessary commuter buses and park-and-ride lots for $36.5 million. However, a revised I-85 project is now calling for 82 buses and park-and-ride lots beyond Gwinnett County, putting the new price tag at $123.9 million.
Georgia is still going through with the project, stating that much of the added service was planned for later dates.
“You can’t win for losing if we’re going to get criticized for finding these state funds, which, yes, are taken away from other things,” Karlene Barron, Georgia DOT spokesperson, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The issue is, we thought it was important to leverage the additional funds not only for the corridor but for the region.”
The Georgia DOT has been able to offset the spike with a spot or two of savings. For example, the cost of the toll portion of the project was reduced by $50 million.
However, the express bus system that will serve the HOV portion of I-85 is already facing a financial crisis by 2012. Ridership is down, and the federal money received for the project does not cover day-to-day operations.