Most freeways have normal rush hour delay zones. But I-85 between Newnan and I-285 and the aforementioned area of I-285 have not. They really only get slow when they have wrecks or when the other freeway does and those delays slow them. I-85 may not have a normal jam each day, but the volume level southwest of town is high enough that any small problem jams it even worse than the same kind of problem would, say, on I-85 in Gwinnett. This characteristic is probably a big contributor to the changes on I-285.
Population increases have simply brought more traffic into most areas. That pressure increase isn’t as obvious on I-285 in Dunwoody, because the traffic there is already terrible. But the downgrade from speed limit to slow is far more noticeable, which is why I-285 on the south side is now part of the doldrums. The “fragile effect” is in play almost daily here: there are far more factors almost constantly that pollute this traffic ecosystem on I-285.
The economic boom of the last few years also, naturally, has taken its toll on the Perimeter. This portion of I-285 sees a large number of tractor trailers, which move slower and take up more room than other vehicles. And there are more big rigs not just because of the good economy, but because of the increased commerce in the newly-deepened Port of Savannah.
So more people and more trucks seem to be the main factors in the lost frontier on I-285. There also seems to simply be more traffic at the Airport to stir into the equation. But as much hand-wringing as can be done about the how and the why, the important factor is the what. There is no doubt that traffic on I-285 anywhere south of I-20 is much worse now. So plan your commute or Airport trip accordingly. Tune in to News 95.5/AM-750 WSB and Channel 2 Action News before leaving home and keep 95.5FM on in the car. And also download our Triple Team Traffic Alerts App and leave it running in the background on your phone as you drive to hear our automatic audio alerts about problems in the area.
So, cheers to I-285 near the Airport. We enjoyed you while you were good. But, alas, you are now just like every other Atlanta freeway.
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Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.