There used to be a restaurant near my house that I went to all the time. The food was not good. The service was barely passable. But, it was close, it wasn’t too expensive, and after much trial and error, I found a couple of dishes that were edible. Despite its many flaws, I continued to eat there. The food was bad, but I knew what I was going to get. I would never love my meal, but after some experimentation, I found a dish or two that I didn’t really hate.
The same can be said for Atlanta traffic. According to the latest Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s (TTI) Urban Mobility Report, Atlanta’s traffic congestion is among the worst in the nation, but it’s reliably bad. So commuters generally know what they are going to get.
According to the report, Atlanta has the nation’s seventh worst traffic, but only the 21st worst when it comes to unreliability of commutes.
Let me translate that for you. Your drive stinks, but you usually know how bad it’s going to be.
I see this play out every morning in the traffic center. If the roads are dry, and there are no abnormal incidents on the roads, I can tell you with alarming accuracy what your trip time is going to be.
For example, if it was dry tomorrow morning, and you got on I-75 at Wade Green Road at 7:45 a.m., I know it will take you between 27 and 32 minutes to get to I-285. The trip time on I-85 from Hwy. 316 to I-285 at the same time will be between 17 and 21 minutes depending on what lane you are in.
The Dean of Atlanta traffic reporting Captain Herb Emory agrees.
“Most commuters know that if you are coming down from Braselton you are going to be stuck in three different jams,” Emory said. “First up around the Mall of Georgia, then at Hwy. 316 and one more heading into downtown.”
“It’s based on the history of the traffic patterns,” Emory said. “It’s pretty established around here where your slow zones are going to be.”
The biggest change to the traffic patterns continues to be inclement weather. If the roads are wet, all bets are off. Normal trip times can double or even triple when the rains come.
“If you know it’s going to rain, Atlanta drivers know that they are going to have to get up early and get out early,” Captain Herb said.
The fact that the metro region has been in a prolonged drought, might be one of the reasons that our commutes and our delays are among the most reliable in the nation.