Mark Arum: Gridlock Guy

My wife loves going to this one restaurant. I hate it. But, because I'm a good husband, I go with her. There's one item on the restaurant's menu that I find edible. It's not great, but it fills me up. Every time I order something different, it is worse than the item I usually order. So, after much trial and error, I decided that the devil I know, is better than the devil I don't know. In this case, a cheeseburger.

The State of Georgia is now facing a similar quandary with Ga. 400. Do we stick with the devil we know (traffic the way it is now) or do we go with the devil we don't know, and transform the emergency lane on Ga. 400 into a travel lane as was recently proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal?

I would love to be able to get another travel lane on Ga. 400. Four travel lanes heading between Alpharetta and Sandy Springs is just not sufficient to handle the traffic coming down through North Fulton and Forsyth County.

I am intrigued by the cost-effective solution of transforming an emergency lane into another travel lane.

The drawback obviously, is the loss of that emergency lane. How important is it to have an emergency lane along Ga. 400. If you ask emergency responders, they will tell you it is very important. Ambulances, fire trucks and police cars all use the emergency lane for a variety of reasons. Whether it is to avoid traffic to get to an accident scene, or to transport someone injured to a hospital, that "break-down" lane is quite often used by emergency crews for travel. I can't speak to the importance of having that lane for emergency crews, but I certainly trust their opinions when it comes to the matter.

As a traffic reporter I am mostly concerned about one issue. Where can car crashes and stalls now be moved? Right now, if a crash happens on Ga. 400 at the Chattahoochee River Bridge police and rescue units can move the damaged vehicles into the right emergency lane. If we change that lane to a travel lane, there will be nowhere to move incidents. That's my biggest concern. Incidents might take longer to clear than they do now, which would result in worse traffic.

The project would add the new lane between Holcomb Bridge Rd. and the North Springs MARTA station which during morning drive is one of the slowest stretches of pavement.

Doug Turnbull covers Ga. 400 traffic for NewsTalk WSB during morning drive.

"I like the new plan to use the shoulder at peak drive times on Ga. 400," said Turnbull. "It will not be a total solution though, as the southbound delays start north of the new lanes in morning drive and the northbound delays start south of the lane zone in p.m. drive. But, for the cost its a good start."