ATLANTA — If you’re waiting for someone caught in a traffic jam somewhere in Metro Atlanta, you’re not alone. Atlanta now ranks third in the nation in traffic congestion.
Over the years, traffic in Atlanta has gotten more and more congested. In 1982, drivers sat stuck in traffic for just 19 hours each year. By 2000, that number jumped to 60 hours.
In 2007, things got a little better, but we’re still wasting hours and hours parked on the freeway.
Will nearly $1 billion in highway stimulus funds improve things? Don’t hold your breath.
Imagine wasting 57 hours a year sitting in traffic — more than your normal workweek. That was in 2007 when the Texas Transportation Institute did its latest study of Atlanta traffic as part of a nationwide study. It was released Wednesday.
Today it could be a lot worse.
And forget using federal stimulus money to make things better. That money will fix roads, traffic lights and bridges, but it will not improve the traffic flow.
Money for that will have to come from the Georgia Legislature, now working on a plan that will not reach voters until November 2010.
It could include a proposal from the Atlanta Regional Commission, looking to add a penny to the sales tax to jump start traffic improvements with $700 million a year.
An immediate goal, according to ARC director Chick Krautler, will be to divert traffic away from Downtown Atlanta.
I think bypasses of some sort outside of Metro Atlanta to move some of the traffic away from the city are absolutely essential,” Krautler said.
That’s something John Oxendine, a GOP gubernatorial candidate and Georgia Insurance Commissioner, supports.
“A freeway that would take South Georgia traffic, Florida traffic, traffic to and from the Port of Savannah — and let it all bypass through West Georgia and get nowhere near the streets of our city,” he said.
“We are looking at a system of high occupancy toll lanes. We’ve got bottlenecks that have to be fixed like the 400 and 285 interchange and other interchanges throughout the region,” Krautler said.
With transportation and traffic becoming key gubernatorial campaign issues, Roy Barnes, former governor and present Democratic candidate, wants action now.
“We’ve talked about transportation solutions but we never have come together to try and do it. And it has now become an emergency, a crisis,” Barnes said.
All sides agree that it will take a combination of bypasses, toll roads and mass transit to get Atlanta out of the top rankings for most serious traffic congestion. It will also take legislative action to get funding before anything can be improved.
Story from 11Alive.com