Gridlock Guy: I-20 took it in the teeth this week

A silver SUV along I-20 West was involved in a fatal shooting Thursday in DeKalb County. Channel 2 Action News

A silver SUV along I-20 West was involved in a fatal shooting Thursday in DeKalb County. Channel 2 Action News

Atlanta traffic is in the garbage bin, now that fall is in full-swing, summer travel has ended and people’s calendars are brimming with autumn activities. When traffic gets this slow in all areas for so long, big wrecks actually don’t happen as much. The slower traffic moves, the harder hitting hard is. But this truth didn’t stop I-20 from having a week in hell — a purgatory worse than other metro Atlanta commutes.

I-20/westbound in DeKalb County got hit twice during afternoon drive this week in the same spot! Yes, the anti-rush hour direction was worse than the ride away from town. Tuesday saw about four vehicles rear-end each other in the left lane I-20/WB just west of Wesley Chapel Road. With traffic looking into the sun already, we knew this would be a mess. But then we noticed on the WSB Jam Cam that a large mass of dirt got laid in the left lane behind it. This took over a couple of hours for several HERO operators and police officers to clean and re-open. This detritus jammed the ride back to Turner Hill and created about a one-hour backup.

In that same place on Thursday, a much more tragic problem caused an equal backup. DeKalb Police say a back seat passenger shot and killed a woman in the front seat at about 4 p.m. Thursday. The investigation ensued in the two right lanes until about 6:30 p.m. and again jammed I-20/wb back to the Mall at Stonecrest. We flew over the backups in the WSB Skycopter, just shaking our heads.

The outbound ride on I-20 in Cobb and Douglas counties had a bad go earlier this week also. Right as AM drive wound down before 9 a.m., there was big trouble.

“That turned into a crash investigation, leaving only a left lane open for more than two hours,” Veronica Harrell said from the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center. “Traffic was backed up for about five miles. Even the alternate, Hwy. 78, became jammed as well.”

And then right in the heart of Downtown Atlanta, police had to shut down both I-20 and I-75/85 early Friday morning. Ashley Frasca reported on this from our Traffic Center.

“We were first alerted to a lady sitting on the I-20 bridge over I-75/85 at 4:40. Our hopes of a light Friday morning were quickly squelched when we heard that Atlanta Police were going to have to shut down BOTH interstates involved in this.” And, Frasca explained, the roads stayed blocked for quite a while. “Once the situation was handled, APD and GSP worked quickly to get both interstates back open before 6:30.”

So whether we flew over the trouble, watched it from our WSB Jam Cams, heard updates on the police scanners or from GDOT, or got updates from Traffic Troopers, we can say with relative ease that I-20 gets the “Mark Arum Jammy” for the week. And, really, not just I-20, but I-20/westbound in DeKalb in PM drive. The heightened traffic volume everywhere and the blinding sunshine in the clear skies only made these problems worse — or made them more likely to happen.