GDOT could have executed this exciting change better. What should have been seen as a positive - opening the first flyover ramp of a huge project and eliminating a slow, inferior ramp - became a negative on day one. Inbound Sandy Springs commuters saw a ground level sign about the ramp’s location change just before having to choose to use it. This created last minute lane changes and confusion, which caused extra backups in morning and evening drive that day.
The messaging before the ramp’s opening was also confusing. The WSB Traffic Team got GDOT’s press release on the new ramp on the Friday beforehand. The wording about the new ramp’s opening said both “this weekend” and “Monday”, so it delivered a confusing message. I reached out to GDOT for clarification and did not get a response. In their defense, GDOT sometimes leaves a start time open-ended, because many factors can delay an opening or closure. But GDOT should have done more to make sure people got the clear message about this benchmark in its top road project.
On top of the muddled message in a cluttered news cycle, commuters also complained of poor signage on GA-400/southbound. Aside from a couple of temporary electronic signs and one permanent one very close to the new ramp, drivers had little idea of the change. The purpose of the entire project is to eliminate many of the last minute weaves that cause extra delays. GDOT should consider (and likely is) overhead signs for ramps even earlier in this area. And as ramps permanently open in this area, painting some pavement shields on the lanes will be good indicators for drivers.
The exit for the new GA-400/southbound flyover ramp to I-285/westbound will open adjacently to the new eastbound ramp before the end of this year, GDOT says. There is no exact date. So motorists need to plan their commutes ahead of time and check with 95.5 WSB and Channel 2 Action News for any big changes each morning. The WSB Traffic Team was all over this sudden ramp opening and got the word out often both on the air, on social media, and on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App. Those that heard of the change were much less likely to miss their exit. People have adjusted quickly and the interchange has functioned more normally since.
Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin' Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com .