ATLANTA — Workers stopped collecting tolls for good on Georgia 400 in metro Atlanta on Friday, prompting some motorists to honk their horns as they cruised through toll plazas without charge for the first time to two decades.
Drivers no longer will have to pay the 50-cent charge, and state officials predicted the highway could see a traffic increase of as much as 18 percent.
The toll plaza, on a highway linking downtown Atlanta with its booming northern suburbs, opened 20 years ago. State officials said it has collected $300 million in toll revenue and $11 million in fines from drivers who didn’t pay.
Gov. Nathan Deal was on hand for a ceremony ending the charges, which stopped earlier than expected as workers waved cars through without the fee.
“The public has put their 2 cents worth in whether the tolls should come down,” said Deal. “We’re going to let them keep their 50 cents from this point forward.”
Demolition of the toll plaza is scheduled to begin in January. The demolition project is expected to cost $4.5 million and be completed by the fall of 2014.
Limousine driver Isaac Oyebade said he drives through the toll at least three times a day, and he was happy the charges had ended and the toll plazas were coming down.
“Traffic will be backed up for a while, but I think after they finish constructing everything it will be fine,” Oyebade said.
Natalie Dale, a spokeswoman with the Georgia Department of Transportation, said traffic cones, barrels and signs will be used to direct drivers through the area as the toll plaza is taken down.