Gridlock Guy: Living, working in same county helps commute

Last week I celebrated my 18th anniversary at WSB-TV and WSB Radio. The media industry as a whole (especially the world of radio) is notorious for having a very high turnover rate, meaning people don’t usually stay with one company for long. Some people move on to bigger media markets. Others leave the industry all together. Some are simply let go.

I have no desire to leave Atlanta and I certainly don’t want get out of the media business. So my main goal is to just not get fired. How I have I accomplished that? I think the number one reason is that I make sure I am never late to work. In the media industry, as I’m sure as most other lines of work, tardiness tends to lead to unemployment.

The key for my consistent punctuality is that I live extremely close to work. Less than 10 minutes door-to-door if I hit the traffic signals just right. The WSB studios are in Midtown Atlanta. For 17 of my 18 years with the company I have lived in Fulton County as well. Same county, plus close to work, plus less traffic, has equalled long term employment.

I know it always isn’t possible, feasible or desirable to live and work in the same county, I think both traffic conditions and our quality of life would go up if more of us lived and worked in the same county. Unfortunately in metro Atlanta, a majority of us don’t do that.

My colleague at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Andria Simmons, dug into some freshly released data from the U.S. Census Bureau that shows the large number of Georgia workers that travel to a different county for work. With information from the 2013 American Community Survey, Simmons found some startling numbers.

61 percent of workers in Clayton County commute from outside the county. Of those, 3,545 came from Cobb; 6,551 came from DeKalb; 10,682 came from Fulton; and 2,153 came from Gwinnett.

  • 61 percent of workers in Clayton County commute from outside the county. Of those, 3,545 came from Cobb; 6,551 came from DeKalb; 10,682 came from Fulton; and 2,153 came from Gwinnett.
  • 60 percent of workers in Fulton County commute from elsewhere. Of those, 36,858 came from Clayton; 91,065 came from Cobb; 112,322 came from DeKalb; and 66,036 came from Gwinnett.
  • 51 percent of workers in DeKalb County commute from outside the county. Of those, 8,464 came from Clayton; 15,360 came from Cobb; 37,281 came from Fulton; and 44,956 came from Gwinnett.
  • 40 percent of workers in Cobb County commute from elsewhere. Of those, 3,715 came from Clayton; 11,526 came from DeKalb; 25,342 came from Fulton; and 8,668 came from Gwinnett.
  • 35 percent of workers in Gwinnett County commute from outside the county. Of those, 1,737 came from Clayton; 8,963 came from Cobb; 26,606 came from DeKalb; 19,368 came from Fulton.

Think about those numbers for a second. If we were able to get those numbers down to 25 percent across the board, imagine how much better traffic would be? Let’s take Cobb County for example. 3,715 people commute from Clayton County to Cobb County for work. I would wager that a majority of those people travel on some combination of Interstate 75, Interstatei 285 or I-75/85 to get to work. If those people worked in Clayton County instead or lived in Cobb County, that would take a nice chunk of vehicles off the interstates.

Again, I understand that circumstances, desires and costs may not make living and working in the same county realistic for some people, the live/work/play model could be a future solution to our every worsening traffic woes.

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Gridlock updatesMark Arum’s column appears Mondays. Listen to his traffic reports daily on News 95.5 and AM750 WSB, and see him each morning on Channel 2 Action News. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @markarum.