Gridlock Guy: On life’s fragility, perpetual cones and strange signs

Gwinnett County police are investigating a three-vehicle crash that killed five people and injured three others early Monday morning. Police say a vehicle went over the raised ramp and fell onto Pleasant Hill Road.

Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

Credit: Gwinnett County Police Department

Gwinnett County police are investigating a three-vehicle crash that killed five people and injured three others early Monday morning. Police say a vehicle went over the raised ramp and fell onto Pleasant Hill Road.

This past week has been tragic and frustrating in Atlanta traffic. And aside from the angst and grief, I also got two odd and similar traffic questions that warranted time. But before those, some gravity.

Life’s fragility is on full display (again) on the roads

The gut-wrenching, horrible crash on the Highway 316/westbound flyover ramp to I-85/southbound early last Monday morning that killed five teenagers and injured three others may end up teaching many lessons.

One overarching moral here is indisputable: Our lives are precious and are very delicate in traffic.

Six teenagers were out driving really late on Labor Day weekend and saw their lives changed or snuffed in an instant, as they merged into traffic in their pickup truck and collided with another car. The truck flew off the overpass and onto the I-85/southbound ramp to Pleasant Hill below, ejecting two. Another car ran one over. Gwinnett PD says the crash is still under investigation, but alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

The crash hurt two others in another car. The third vehicle, the one that ran over and killed a teen, inevitably had a shaken driver, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The physical and psychological toll ripples through the families and friends of these teens and the others involved.

And the loss hits home for me, as three of the deceased attended my alma mater, Lakeside High. I know students there and a couple of the faculty. That doesn’t make this any more tragic, but it brings the white heat of loss closer to home.

So whether we talk of drivers or passengers, cyclists of the analog or motor variety, pedestrians or roadside first responders, young or old, we are reminded again that the confluence of speed, heavy metal, asphalt, error, and flesh can be deadly.

We all need to behave that way.

Sandy Springs drivers slog again

The above tragedy makes road construction-delays almost look silly — but they are important.

Overnight last Monday into Tuesday, GDOT closed the left lane each way on I-285 just east of Riverside Drive (Exit 24) in Sandy Springs. The two-month-long closures aid the rebuild of the Mount Vernon Highway bridge over the Perimeter.

Sound familiar? The state had just finished blocking two lanes each way on I-285 for a longer stretch just east of there, as the contractor rebuilt the Perimeter’s bridges over Glenridge Drive, GA-400, and Peachtree Dunwoody Road. Those closures lasted for about nine months.

GDOT tied these repairs into the much larger and longer-lasting Transform 285/400 project that has been reprofiling the busy interchange for the past six years. And the project is a couple of years past the original finish date, partially due to the new punch-list items.

For those bothered by the interruptions, GDOT wants commuters to know that the Mount Vernon bridge rebuild is unrelated to the bigger “Transform” project, which is in its finishing stages.

But even when both are finished, drivers in this corridor need to know that the builds and closures will continue, as the state will build tolled Express Lanes on each side of I-285 and GA-400.

So drivers here in North Fulton will have this to look forward to for a very long time, but the benefits of the newly expanded interchange should help stymie the jams.

Here’s your sign(s)

I love the emails that AJC readers and 95.5 WSB listeners send, as they often point me in new directions.

Nori-Lynn emailed in a picture of a circular, yellow road sign with a picture of a truck at the top, with a perpendicular “t” separating the truck from two numbers, 80 and 110. The 80 had arrows pointing opposite ways under it. The 110 had one arrow pointed in one direction. She and her husband had found the sign in a flea market.

This strange flea market find appears to be meant for truck drivers at a specific site and not a moniker for an obscure traffic law. CONTRIBUTED

Credit: CONTRIBUTED (AJC reader Nori-Lynn)

icon to expand image

Credit: CONTRIBUTED (AJC reader Nori-Lynn)

She asked what the sign meant and, of course, I had no idea. I did a Google image search and found no other signs like it. Similar ones, however, were tailored for specific sites and were not general road signs that drivers should know.

The truck symbol looked like a Jeep or other military vehicle, so my guess is this sign was custom-made for truck directionals for a military facility.

An X (formerly known as Twitter) user also sent me a picture of a befuddling sign located in the I-285/I-20 construction zone in DeKalb. The crew here has just begun a years-long rebuild of that interchange.

The neon yellow-green sign reads “EIC” on the top row and “AP 21″ below.

I presume the letters and numbers are to inform the crews of entry points and to help mark their locations, and another X user indicated the same.

Outside of the couple of dozen symbols all drivers should know, if we see unfamiliar road signs, they probably are not meant for us.

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. Download the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App to hear reports from the WSB Traffic Team automatically when you drive near trouble spots. Contact him at