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Toll lanes coming to I-75, 575

Toll lanes coming to I-75, 575

ATLANTA -- Georgia is now one step closer to relieving traffic for thousands of commuters from Cobb and Cherokee County.

Tuesday, Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced the state has been awarded a federal loan of $270 million, money to help build reversible toll lanes along stretches of I-75 and 575.

Mayor Reed said the project will make transportation to and from Atlanta "easier, more convenient. It's going to generate jobs and it's going to get families to and from the city and work."

Federal approval of the loan follows a presentation Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed gave in Washington last month to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Republican governor and Democratic mayor extolled the project's potential to ease traffic congestion and create jobs.

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Win a 55" TV from 11Alive and DealChicken

Win a 55" TV from 11Alive and DealChicken

ATLANTA -- 11Alive is busy preparing for the launch of DealChicken, which provides users with the very best deals in cities all across the U.S.

Now, to help our viewers share in our excitement, we are giving away a 55" LCD television to one lucky winner in our DealChicken sweepstakes.

To enter, simply "like" 11Alive on Facebook and click on the DealChicken TV Giveaway link (on the left-hand side of the page, under the photo of Chesley).

Good luck, and don't forget to register for DealChicken!

Texting-while-driving ban: What now?

Texting-while-driving ban: What now?

ATLANTA -- Can -- and should -- the texting-while-driving ban for Georgians be strengthened?

On Monday we released the numbers of an 11Alive News investigation that learned that the state had received 245 convictions for texting while driving since the passing of the ban last year. The numbers average out to fewer than one conviction per day.

On Tuesday, we looked further into whether anything could be done to improve the numbers.

We started with the Georgia State Patrol; their 800 troopers are giving out barely 10 citations a month for texting while driving. We asked GSP Lieutenant Paul Cosper what might help.

"Would an unmarked vehicle work?" Cosper said. "Sure. Traffic cameras in the intersection? Perhaps."

As to whether it would be easier to enforce as an entire cell phone ban while driving, Cosper said, "Theoretically, I guess it would make it easier.

Man dies after being hit by truck

Man dies after being hit by truck

SMYRNA, Ga. -- A 25-year-old man died two days after being hit by a car in Smyrna.

Marietta resident Ralph Smith was pronounced dead on Sunday at WellStar Kennestone Hospital.

Cobb County Police said Smith was attempting to walk across Windy Hill Road at Benson Poole Road shortly after 11 p.m. on Friday.

While crossing, he was hit by a blue 1996 Dodge Ram driven by 36-year-old Abraham Samaniego-Castor of Powder Springs.

Samaniego-Castor was not injured in the accident. Police do not expect to charge him.

Anyone with additional information in this case is asked to call Cobb County Police at 770-499-3987.

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Original Havana Sandwich Shop in $20

Original Havana Sandwich Shop in $20

ATLANTA – After the original Havana Sandwich shop was “completely gutted” by fire in 2008, two Havana Sandwich shops opened in the general vicinity of the “original” both claiming the title.

Over the years, there has been much debate about which shop deserved the title of the original, but for many, Havana Restaurant at 3979 Buford Highway in Atlanta retains the crown. Considered one of Atlanta’s iconic restaurant survivors along with the Varsity, The Collanade and the recently closed Pano’s and Paul’s, Havana has been serving up sandwiches and Cuban fare for 35 years.  

Eddie Benedit Sr. and his wife, Debbie, opened the restaurant in 1976, only a couple of years after he came to the United States from Cuba. Eddie was always very conscious of the restaurant’s quality, consistency and affordability, and prices reflect that.

Back from the dead

MARIETTA, Ga. -- He was the football player, she was the cheerleader. They fell in love in 10th grade at Marietta High School.

"We were in a biology class together," Alan Durham said. 

Looking at him quizzically, his wife Angie said, "It was French."
Undeterred, he said, "No it was biology."

Despite the mismatched memories, Alan and Angie made the journey through life together, crossing the threshold into marriage in 1976. Three children, four grandchildren and 35 years later, Alan had a heart attack at their Acworth home on May 23. 

One year later, is texting-while-driving ban working?

ATLANTA -- An 11Alive investigation finds some intriguing numbers about Georgia's first year banning texting while driving.

Last June, then-Governor Sonny Perdue signed two bills into law. The first banned cell phone usage while driving for those under the age of 18. The second banned texting while driving for any driver in the state.

Last week, 11Alive News filed an Open Records Request with the state's Department of Driver Services. We asked for the numbers on convictions for both laws; "convictions" covers cases where the driver receives a citation and then either pleads guilty in court or simply pays the fine.

Here is what we found: