When I-85 in Atlanta went up in flames March 30, it made commuting all the more miserable for the region’s commuters. Now that it’s open again we’re back to … our normal level of commuting misery. And the bad news is, it’s going to get worse.
That’s why the Spinning Our Wheels blog asked metro Atlanta residents to talk about how their commute affects their lives. We were especially interested in hearing from folks who traveled an hour or more to work.
Dozens of people responded. Here’s what some of them told us:
“I work in Buckhead and live in Snellville, a 25-mile drive. Even without traffic, the drive is a good 45 minutes... My fiancé and I are actively looking to move back into the city. The larger space in our Snellville home is nice, but the time wasted driving each day just isn't worth it, even once the (I-85) bridge is fixed. I've done everything to pass the time from calling friends and family, listening to NPR (I've never been more informed in my life!) audiobooks and podcasts. I'm always looking for other suggestions, though!” - Katie Mock
“The 4:30 a.m. wake-up call still takes two cups of coffee to get used to, and the 30-minute drive to the Mall of Georgia bus stop makes my gas expenses well over the old $100 monthly budget, but the one-hour bus ride from mall to Midtown Atlanta really isn’t all that bad. I get an hour of forced silence and solitude every morning and afternoon. In a fast-paced `what’s next’ world, we rarely pause to decompress alone with our thoughts for the day. We clock out and then rush on to the next task for the day, never thinking `what did I even do today,’ or `did I even make a difference in someone’s life today?’ Admittedly, some days those hour long bus rides aren’t spent in total silence and solitude, though. There are work emails that sometimes need to be sent, books to be read, podcasts to be listened to and the occasional naps to aid the sleep deprivation, but I wouldn’t change my choice to commute. Seeing family every night is worth it.” - Adam Roell
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“My commute home is about one and a half hours. Lawrenceville to Atlanta (Colony Square Midtown Area). My work hours are 4:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I mostly listen to podcasts in the car to pass time. Can’t move, tried to sell my home before. Nice Ryland home but my wife works less than a mile from home. I tried MARTA’S Doraville Station to Arts Center Station but that adds an hour to my commute home, so driving to Atlanta is actually easier. I could find work closer to home as many employers are looking for CPA’s but I like what I do at Norfolk Southern… There are some really great podcasts out there to provide a second education. I try to make the best of it and I am thankful I can at least work the hours that I do.” - William Carter
“I'm a native Atlantan and have been commuting an hour for the last 10 years. I live in Fairburn and work in Chamblee. I take MARTA three days a week, drive one day and telework one day. It's an hour or more whether I take MARTA or drive. I drive at least 20 minutes to get to the train - the bus is not an option. It's not bad really. It forced me to walk/exercise more. I usually read on the train to pass the time. It's a 40-minute ride once I get on the train. I'm buying my home, so moving is not an option. I would never consider moving just to be closer to work. If I move it will be to Hawaii!” - Faith Bibbs
“I live in Paulding County and commute to Midtown Atlanta every day. On a good day it takes about an hour and 5 to an hour and 10 minutes. There have been more days that I can count where the commute has been over two hours one way. Let's not even talk about inclement weather. We do have one GRTA bus option that goes directly to Midtown, but it leaves at 7:05 in the morning, which does not work with the school system (earliest drop off is 7:30 a.m.). So that leaves me driving. Also, if I were to get the dreaded call from school, I would have no way to get to my child, because the earliest bus pick up is 4:30 in the afternoon. Public transportation does not work for us at all. My husband's commute is no better. He drives to Dunwoody from Hiram. His commute is normally 1 and a half hours to two hours each way. Waze has become our best friend.” - Beth Richardson
For more tales of commuting hell – and for a look at Atlanta’s long-term plans for combating traffic congestion – read our full story here.