Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

Gwinnett, your genius is showing!

If this was on The Onion, I’d laugh. But it’s on the AJC.

Next summer, commuting will change for thousands of I-85 drivers in Gwinnett County.

For the first time in Georgia, an interstate lane will have a toll, and the computerized price will change moment by moment, rising when congestion in the main lanes rises.

It’s good news if you’re a solo driver willing to pay to get to an appointment a little faster.

But it’s bad news if you’re in a two-person car pool used to a free HOV lane, because you’ll be paying a toll, too.

In a couple of weeks, state Department of Transportation contractors intend to start closing parts of I-85 to construct an electronic toll in the HOV lane. The toll is to run from just south of Spaghetti Junction in DeKalb County to Old Peachtree Road in Gwinnett County.

If state officials have their way, it’s the first leg of a metrowide network of such lanes.

It is a huge innovation in transportation, one of just a handful of such projects nationwide. On the flip side of that coin, it’s an experiment. State officials readily admit they don’t know if it will work. And can drivers figure it out? The AJC got a look at the freshly designed road signs. Some of them may hinder more than help, judging by the reaction of drivers interviewed this week.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the DOT is holding events to launch the lane’s construction. A public meeting is from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Gwinnett Center.

HOV toll lanes — now called “express lanes” — have advocates. They marvel that even in metro Atlanta, even at rush hour, a driver who is willing to pay will be able to find free-flowing highway traffic.

“I think that’s pretty cool,” said Darryl Harden, a Norcross plumber who drives a lot for his work. “If I can get in that — hey, I’ll go for it.”

And the concept has detractors.

“The taxpayers have already paid for this” HOV lane, said Sabrina Smith, chairwoman of Gwinnett Citizens for Responsible Government. She was concerned that more tax dollars are being invested simply to force out taxpaying two-person car pools. “That’s what’s frustrating for people who play by the rules and try to do the right thing.”

Others note that the reliable traffic flow relies on keeping out people who can’t afford the toll.

Express lane drivers tend to have higher incomes than average, but advocates say the lanes are valuable for working-class parents late to pick up a child from day care.

The lanes may or may not make money. A traffic and revenue study done for the state predicts the lanes may bring in from $3 million to $7 million the first year, and several times more in years after that. But officials say the point is to create one place on the highways where rush-hour traffic is reliably mobile.

There are no reliable examples to show what exactly the effect on the regular lanes will be, experts at a conference here said earlier this year. On the one hand, the toll lane might move more cars, if the toll lane moves faster than the HOV lane. On the other hand, whenever government builds a new road project, people make trips they’ve been putting off, adding to the traffic.

One undeniable fact: Traffic on I-85 needs help.

The state says it’s on the way.

Invest money in expanding MARTA, thereby increasing ridership, lowering fares, and eliminating traffic?… Hell no!

Punish people who carpool by making them pay a toll to ride in the HOV lane, thereby causing more people to drive alone and therefore create more traffic?… Hell yes!

Face, meet desk.


Atlanta: cheap and smart! and car-y.

Traffic mess? Don't drive on the connector!

Stumbled across this article from last month’s Boston Globe. I know we don’t have our shit together in A LOT of ways, but it makes me happy to see someone from a “real city” point out some of the good things we’ve got working for us. You’ll find a few backhanded compliments in there, but I don’t mind – I thought southerners were the only ones who insult people with compliments, bless our hearts!

One of my pet peeves is brought up here, though. I really wish everyone could chill with the car-centric-ness. Yes, you need a vehicle to get around the greater Atlanta area, which covers what, the northern half of the state now? But intown we are the littlest big city I’ve ever seen – you can get a lot done in a pretty small radius. Contrary to popular belief, some people even walk outside here to get from one place to another. Ridership is substantial on MARTA (1.3 million trips in a work week, made by students and employed people, at that!). Real-life people that wear suits to work commute on bikes. Even this swampy July I’m happily pedaling the 4 miles to work and haven’t had any coworker complaints about stinkiness.

At least with the Ox out of the Governor’s race runoff we won’t have our own version of the Big Dig running through the east side.

Metblogs back for the attack

Have no fear, loyal listeners – contrary to what we all thought, metblogs isn’t shutting down (some sort of technical difficulties probably involving serious mathematical equations put things on hold for a while yesterday).  See here for  details and donation opportunities, if that’s your sort of thing, for the greater metblogs site.

This means Atlanta metblogs is back for the attack.  We’ll continue updating y’all on sports teams on which I cannot name a single player, bitching about traffic and transit, debating the merits and potential of Underground, hyping scoutmob, and lamenting the loss of Tortillas.  Anything else you’d like to hear about, or think everyone else should hear about? Let us know, we may very well even get around to posting it!

Dare I say it … Progress on the Transportation Front?

I sincerely hope that Metblogs isn’t your sole source for local news, but just to catch up any readers who may be a few days behind: last night the Georgia Legislature (on its third-to-last day of the 2010 session) passed the “Transportation Investment Act of 2010.”  Great news!

photo Vino Wong,

But first, a nod towards a little bit of background: On Tuesday MARTA staged a rally and “publicity campaign,” dramatically marking huge red X’s on a third of their fleet to represent the buses and trains that would be taken out of service later this year in order to help fill a $120 million budget hole.

The kicker (well, one of the kickers) is that MARTA has money – not a lot, but what they do have they weren’t allowed to use. By law, they can only spend 50% of their revenues from sales tax on operations. That’s why, I assume, we have all the brand-new fancypants black buses driving around in a time of rate hikes and service cuts.

There are obviously about 50 layers of issues here that I’m not going to pretend to know about and/or can’t get into, including the fact that MARTA is the only major transit system in the country without state funding, that leadership supposedly wants state funding but not state oversight, that the legislature has been debating a transportation funding bill for three years, and so on. (and on).

BUT! Last night we made progress! They’re going to let us tax ourselves! Hooray! A bill passed last night that will divide the state into 12 regions, and let each region vote in a referendum to thumbs up or thumbs down a list of transportation projects in the region, along with a 1% sales tax to fund them. Money has to come from somewhere, I suppose, and it’s better than nothing. HB277 also lifts that restriction on MARTA’s operations funding, though just for 3 years.

The bill just passed last night, and is on the Governor’s desk to be signed (he technically has 40 days past the end of session to sign it, I believe), so it’s not final yet. And nothing will actually happen for another couple of years (referendums would take place in 2012).  But I am allowing myself to hope, just a teeny bit, that Atlanta might eventually be, in my lifetime, a place where people ride a train or take a bus and it’s a quick, reasonably priced, perfectly normal means of getting from one place to another. Hoping this is a good step.

More info on the legislation – bill itself here, CL’s fresh loaf here, GPB Lawmakers here, AJC here .

MARTA Observations

When I can, I take MARTA a few days a week into work. It’s a fun ride. Here are a few observations I’d like to share.

1. MARTA is an art gallery for graffiti. East, west, north or south, you’ll see a collection of Atlanta’s finest taggings. It’s all on display for you. Enjoy.

2. MARTA time is faster than normal time. Today my commute took about an hour and it went by quickly. It didn’t feel like an hour. 20 minutes in my car can feel like an hour. An hour of MARTA time feels like 20 minutes in a car.

3. MARTA is good for you. Most, if not all, of the escalators are out of service forcing you to take the stairs. That is good for you. It’s good for your heart and body. Taking the stairs gets your blood pumping and energized as you start the day. Not only that, you have to walk to get where you’re going. MARTA is a good health alternative to driving.

4. MARTA gives perspective. You will see beautiful views of Atlanta you will never ever see driving.

5. MARTA saves money. Sure driving is way more convenient but it’s way more expensive. You can make a tank of gas last many days longer.

Try it out and see for yourself.


up to EIGHT LANES are going to be closed on the connector this weekend according to this press release from the dot.

i inadvertently got caught in this when only three lanes were closed and it was an abject nightmare.

piedmont is probably your best bet on the east side of town and on the west side northside has been pretty much clear throughout this paving mess. if you are traveling from points outside atlanta to points beyond atlanta, take i-285.

of course, transit is always an option, especially with $4.00 gas.

maybe not 16, but can you do one ton?

the clean air campaign is looking to you to help take one ton of pollution out of atlanta’s skies over the next year.

it’s actually pretty simple – you just commit to one alternative commute a week. carpool, public transit, bike, walk, telework – anything other than driving alone. the math says that the average atlanta commuter would take one ton of pollution out of the air by doing this once a week.

so what do you say, up for the one ton challenge?

if so you can register here.

i’d tell you about my own experiences becoming a ‘clean’ commuter, but i might get accused of self-righteous preaching again ;-)

that drive up the connector keeps getting more expensive.

the ajc is reporting today that atlanta gas prices have reached an all-time high. citing the web site the paper report that the average price for regular unleaded in the metro is $3.203.

i am curious, and i would love to hear from you solo commuters in the comments, how high is your threshold before you start considering other options.

for those of you already doing so, please feel free to use the comments section of this post to gloat….

p.s. – sorry for the f’ed up links. still learning our new publishing system.

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