As a young child growing up in Atlanta in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the knowledge of the traffic woes has always been prevalent. I can remember coming home from school and hearing the afternoon rush hour reports on the radio, hearing my parents make plans to go places around the traffic, or actually sitting in the traffic and observing the delays, horn honking and subtle road rage. I would often think and wonder to myself, “Just what is it that causes Atlanta to have the level of traffic that it does? Is it specific to “bad drivers”? Or is it specific to the growth of the city and suburbs around?”
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One could venture to expand on the thought of “bad drivers” as a major source of Atlanta’s traffic woes. During the morning and afternoon rush hour reports, we hear of car crashes that tie up or even shut down highways for extended amounts of time; which can be caused by careless drivers that are either attached to their mobile devices or in such a rush to get from Point A to Point B. As a result, instead of the ride home attempting to be a happy moment after a long day at work, it turns into the Atlanta Motor Speedway, which can have some damaging effects on those trying to get home and those involved.
Another could venture to speak on the lack of highway infrastructure that Atlanta fails to have. 30 years ago, having the 7 major highways that we currently have would be feasible and necessary. After all, company headquarters and the entertainment industry had not quite set their sights on Atlanta. But within the last ten years, Atlanta has grown tremendously, while adopting the slogan and meme that is seen on social media, “We are FULL!” As a result, new residences are being built daily to accommodate the influx of transplant residents that have visited one time and want to make this their permanent home. While Atlanta is primarily affected, suburbs such as Alpharetta, Sandy Springs, Snellville and even Conyers are feeling and reeling the effects of the traffic woes.
Simply put, Atlanta has identified that traffic is a major, yet horrible thorn in our sides. There are many factors that add to this demise, but ultimately, there has to be a solid solution that can benefit the city as well as the residents and visitors. Sure, adding express and reverse lanes can lessen the blow, but does it really help? Is a person willing to pay rates just to get home faster, or save that money for another cause? After all, if everyone jumps on board with the express lanes, you create another traffic jam and there goes the idea of lighter traffic! Riding the transit buses, MARTA, carpooling, or even telecommuting doesn’t begin to scratch or solve the true issue; and that is that Atlanta needs to invest and establish more highways and roadways to offset and accommodate the growth that has started and will continue for years to come. Until the powers that be realize and understand, Atlanta will continue to experience highway headaches and woes that can simply be solved by upgrading and expanding the infrastructure that we currently have while continuing to make Atlanta an attractive place to live, visit and work.
Words by: Teri Noble