As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this week, state officials believe toll lanes are a big part of the solution to the region’s traffic problems. They’re building a 120-mile network of toll lanes across metro Atlanta.
We recently asked our readers for their thoughts on how to fix our traffic mess. So far, we’ve received more than 380 responses. We published some of them last week. But we thought we’d share some more today.
That’s to everyone who shared their thoughts.
It would seem that MARTA would be better served to pursue more bus instead of more rail transit. Pursuing bus rapid transit would be faster and cheaper than rail. Of course, no one can predict the impact of self-driving vehicles on future transportation decisions. This technology could be a game changer in partially eliminating traffic jams. If so, then expensive rail lines would be obsolete by the time of completion. Do you have a crystal ball? - Larry Little, Stone Mountain
Counties that do not contribute to the MARTA expenses should have to pay more to ride MARTA. For example, a MARTA card purchased by someone outside of the contributing counties (Dekalb and Fulton) the price for a ride would cost them $3.50 versus $2.50 for citizens in Dekalb and Fulton counties. No more free parking lots; learn to use the buses as well as the trains. - Mary Kay Kreisle, Atlanta
As a longtime resident of the Atlanta Area, who now lives outside the metro area, there is one major fix that will greatly help our interstate system thru and around Atlanta – an outer loop. The last time this subject was brought forth and began was during the Barnes administration. Sonny Perdue was so short-sighted in his election bid that the loop was killed. To underscore the need for an outer loop, all we have to do is look at just the tractor trailer traffic on I-285, which during peak times at least 2 of the right lanes are bumper to bumper with these trucks just trying to get around Atlanta to their final destinations. Then there’s the out of town/out of state car traffic doing the same thing – just trying to get around Atlanta. What do these numbers look like? There is no doubt that the DOT has these numbers and I’m willing the bet they are substantial. Granted there will become disruption in the outlying areas thru eminent domain, I’m fully aware of that and my family when thru it 3 times in the Columbus, GA/Muscogee County area. I know first-hand the impact this has but this loop is good for the masses both inside and outside of our area. Another argument against an outer loop is that “it will increase traffic thru development along enter/exit ramps. Why not limit the number of ramps, though that takes political guts as the pressure from the developers will be great. How to pay for it? Make all or portions of the loop a toll highway just like happened with Ga. 400. The politicians can stick their head in the sand and continue to kick the can down the road so to speak or they can do the right thing though it’s the hard decision and just do it. - James Layfield, Toccoa
Remember 1996 and the fear of bottled-neck traffic? The Solution was to have companies large and small have staggered employee hours. It worked beautifully and that was before computers were in full use by all. Think of how easy that would be today. During that time my husband and I had leased our then condo in Ansley Park to friends with the Chicago Tribune and stayed with friends at the Polo Fields. We traveled back and forth from north of Alpharetta attending the Olympics every day with absolutely no traffic hassle. It is beyond comprehension for me to understand why this has not been put into a permanent practice. So, for what it is worth, ask for corporate and small business support for staggered employee hours. It just might work! There must be multi advantages other than easing traffic congestion. - Marge McDonald, Atlanta
We need more rapid transit, light rail and bus lanes. Get the state more involved in MARTA (where too many rural legislators view Atlanta as a black ghetto that’s “not my problem”). Make MARTA “free,” meaning no fares, just as driving on local streets is “free.” Obviously, all transportation costs must be paid for by taxes, either property or sales. Much of MARTA’s cost could be eliminated by doing away with the whole system of card machines, fare gates and computers. Eliminating fares would greatly increase ridership because of the convenience. Some of the needed tax money should come by taxing any land used to park cars, whether public lots or private company lots. - John Pooler, Doraville
My top choices for infrastructure improvement are: 1. Monorail systems (instead of hard rail) along interstates with smart car, scooter and bike rentals at monorail/Marta stations. Disney World has had a monorail system moving millions of people through their park for over 50 years. Less pollution and noise. Current Peach pay express lanes will not resolve our traffic problems. Those are lanes not used in one direction most of the day and provided for people who can afford a Peach pass. 2. More 4-lane access roads like Northpoint Parkway or Old Milton in Alpharetta. For some reason the main Hwy 9 road through Fulton and Forsyth County has not been widened. It is the main road other than 400 used from Atlanta to Dahlonega. More 4-lane access roads also provide larger exit ability in a national emergency. 3. Outer loop (which was approved in late 1990s and cancelled by Sonny Perdue) especially for trucks to keep out of Atlanta suburbs unless making deliveries. State Route 20 should be widened from Canton to I85. 4. More police monitoring highways to slow speeding traffic. Yesterday I drove from Florida to Atlanta on I-75. Two major accidents and construction stopping or slowing traffic for over an hour each time. - Patty Adkins, Cumming
Look around next time stuck in traffic in Atlanta and notice how many autos have ONE passenger! Almost all of them! I know Southerners love their cars but time to carpool. Easy fix: no cars on I75/I85/I285 unless 2 or more passengers during certain hours, say 6 am – 9 am and 4 pm – 7 pm. (Ok, one lane for single passenger cars, enforced!) There you go! - Jeff Stewart, Valdosta
Without acquiring any new real estate, interstates in congested areas could re-designed to move traffic much faster if all entering traffic entered from a ramp on the left side of the interstate into a dedicated/new lane (i.e., no merge required). Exiting ramps (to the right) would be “Exit Only” (as many already are), reducing the number of lanes back to the original, as needed. This single step, along with eight more lanes of interstate in each current interstate in the ATL, should solve most of the problem. - David Anders, Peachtree City
The problem is so many people go to and from work at nearly the same time. A solution would be to release employees from work on a predetermined schedule based on the quadrant of the city the employer is located. For example, let’s say the NE quadrant releases at 3:30 PM, SE at 4:00 PM, SW at 4:30 PM and NW at 5:00 PM. If an employee misses their release time, they would have to wait until a predetermined alternative release time. A computer program could be devised that is much more sophisticated than the above example to even out the size and boundaries of a quadrant. The idea is like the way the city controls traffic lights based on traffic flow. - Robert Denney, Grayson
If I had a magic wand … and I know this is not a popular idea, but I would stop 18-wheel trucks from being on the most clogged interstates during specified times of rush-hours. I believe they tried this in California. Believe me, I know how important the trucking industry is – my father was a truck driver … but it is something to look into. - Rick Samuels, Suwanee
I live near Lindbergh Road and from 4 – 6:30 pm it is a disaster area. The road gets clogged with cars reaching from Peachtree Road all the way to Piedmont Road. This backup of cars goes all the way to Cheshire Bridge. Preventing cars from moving, there are some very slow lights. The light at Lindbergh and Garson Drive is a very long, slow to change light, even though very few cars, usually 2 or 3, cross on Garson Drive. Then there is another traffic light near the Gold Room, which holds up traffic again. Sometimes this light is blinking, which helps. It is a pity Lindbergh Road has only two lanes, which are hindered by islands (which are not very visible at night). I suggest coordinating traffic lights to help move the traffic. Also, adding a middle lane, which could be reversible at rush hour. - Lilian Bryan, Atlanta
Congestion zone fee for non-residents (like me). Tax vehicles based on their weight, not their sale price, because the size of the vehicle matters for road wear and stops/starts/visibility in traffic. Suspend the driver's license of any person found to be at fault in two accidents within the past 24 months. Levy and enforce significant fines by citation for those who steer and clear a lane after collision if the vehicle is drivable. Develop significant incentives for ridesharing via tax fees and tax incentives. Limit left turns during peak hours. Flashing yellow for many traffic lights during peak hours. - Greg Martin, Smyrna
Atlanta has been built around the car. That needs to change. Were I given a magic wand, I’d slice off a couple lanes of the interstates, add heavy rail and bus lanes, and vastly expand MARTA. Fares would be free, of course, funded by taxes on gas, as well as new tollbooths. Perhaps build a new transit hub downtown for commuter rail spreading out into the suburbs. Since we already have a massive trench in the middle of midtown, why not replace a couple of the Connector’s lanes with commuter rail as well! While we’re at it, would bike lanes be too much to ask? - Henry Gelber, Atlanta
Of course, the biggest problem, beside the number of automobiles in the metropolitan city, is the obvious ... two major north/south interstate highways merging and crossing and then intersecting with another east/west interstate right in the middle of a large city. Adding to that mess is the lack of highways and roads both north/south and east/west for local traffic. US travelers going north or south of the city dread having to pass through Atlanta. My suggestions include a wider by-pass of the city for truckers and travelers whose destination is not Atlanta. (I am aware of jurisdictions, $, and politics impede this suggestion). Maybe use HOV lanes for through-traffic-only until construction is finished. My other suggestion is to use increasingly empty shopping center parking lots as transportation centers where local travelers can take gondola type modes from center to center. I did see Lyft has something similar coming to NYC. Also, any lane-changing drivers should be arrested. They cause more stress to other drivers, not to mention wrecks, which hold up and affect the whole highway system. - Margaret Hansen, Sandy Springs
High speed broadband throughout the metro area encouraging people to work from home. Designated truck lanes. Truck lanes would be for semi-trailers, not all trucks. Messaging boards discouraging out-of-state drivers from entering high congestion zones during certain hours. Steeper fines for high speed and reckless driving. - Andrew Runnebohm, Sugar Hill
1. Offer tax incentives for counties who develop and implement public-owned transportation system (i.e., a public owned bus system) by 2030. 2. Offer a state income tax credit to commuters who use a county bus system or commuter train to commute to work. 3. Install commuter train rails adjacent to the new express lanes to connect to the public bus systems. 4. Send some of our state and county legislators to visit places that have effectively implemented safe, clean mass transportation. - Cynthia De Luz, Canton
I would like to offer that the problem stems from everyone entering the city at approximately the same time and exiting at the same time. If you will notice when there is a holiday how much more manageable traffic is with state and local offices closed. So, if large businesses and government would go to a 4-day work week this would help alleviate and spread out the entrance and exit to and from the city. Additionally, on the government end if they would offer a 4-day week that was either Monday- Thursday, Tuesday - Friday or Wednesday - Saturday and actually have government offices open for business on a Saturday this would help traffic and people that need to access government offices to conduct business. It has well been proven that businesses that work 4 days a week have less people calling in sick, better productivity, and overall happier employees. No one wants to look at solutions that are cost effective- everyone and every panel always want more highways, more money thrown at transit. We are the 7th-largest city in the United States we need to act like we are and set an example. Imagine if something so simple works. - Pat Horton, Atlanta
Synchronizing the traffic lights would help out a lot. Many a time I am stopped at a red light and when the light turns green I cannot move because the next traffic light further down the road is still red and it's wall to wall cars in between. By the time that light turns green and the traffic in front of me starts to move, my light turns red and the end result is very few cars (if any) have moved and the process is repeated. Very frustrating to say the least. - Robert DelSole, Roswell
Expand Marta and other public transportation. See what has been done in Europe! - Maud Foldevi, Johns Creek
I know I am probably not original, but here is what I support and suggest. Build out the HOV lanes for all expressways in metro Atlanta. Use these HOV lanes for MARTA buses to use exclusively. Every five miles, the exits on the expressways will have MARTA parking lots to deliver passengers to these buses. Downtown will have express bus lanes for MARTA buses. - Normer Adams, Fayetteville
A simple solution for Atlanta traffic would be elimination of the amendment to the Georgia constitution that prohibits any gas tax money from going to mass transit. This is not the final solution, but it is a step in that direction. The road-building lobby will still control the legislature in the short run, but serious transportation thinkers will see the potential for progress. The buggy whip industry faded into oblivion, politicians will see that the road builders won’t continue their monopoly much longer. - Mike Holzknecht, Atlanta
It’s not too late: Build I-485 outside the 285 loop as planned in 1985! We sold land to the state in Sugar Hill to build the loop and nothing came of it. What a HUGE political mistake! Every member who voted against finishing the project should have to sit every day on 285 at 5:00 on their way home. It can still be built and would alleviate thousands of hours of truck traffic going around Atl. And, build MARTA stations WAY outside the perimeter so that some commuters go away from the city instead of into the city to get on the lines. Lithonia and eastward is a perfect example. I live in Madison and would really use MARTA at Lithonia or even Winder to go to the city or airport. Every week! - Jerry MCCullough, Madison
Employers need to recognize that people need flex time hours or to work from home in this situation. Being on the road and in traffic for hours is ridiculous. I lived in Atlanta for 10 years and while I lived there, my commute was not extremely bad. My travel time ranged between 45 minutes to an hour on getting home. The mornings we're not bad at all with coming in around 30 minutes. Mind you, I work in Lithonia, east of Atlanta, so I was driving against the traffic. I recently moved to Conyers in order to be closer to work. Average travel time is now 20 minutes both ways and no I-20 travel at all. Maybe more people need to consider moving closer to their jobs as a solution to Atlanta's traffic problem. - Cecilia Junkins, Conyers
I have been told that I-285 was built for semi-trucks and like vehicles. I don't know if that is true or not. I-285 seemed to work for commuters better. Now since Atlanta has become a mega manufacturing and shipping hub, the trucks have taken over I-285. I don't think Atlantans will ever give up their cars for mass transit. I don't have the answer, but the trucks seem to be the problem on our highways. They are dangerous, cause accidents, take up all the lanes, etc. etc. etc. I wish instead of toll lanes, lanes for just transport trucks traveling through Atlanta had been built. - Beverly Caplan, Marietta
We cannot build our way out of the traffic mess we are in. Public transport would be welcome but will not get most people to their desired destinations. Possible solution: Go back to the time designated business openings/closings utilized during the Olympics here. That seemed to be a cheap, logical, and sensible option. - Jon Saulson, Snellville
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