Mark Arum: Gridlock Guy

For a large number of school districts in the Atlanta area today marks the official end of summer. The first day of school is here and for parents, today might be the greatest day of the year. For kids and commuters it’s not exactly cause for celebration.

Vacation is over today not only for school children across the metro area, but also for commuters who have been enjoying lighter than normal rush hours the last couple of months.

When school bells ring this morning in Clayton, Coweta, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Hall, Fayette and city of Atlanta schools, it marks the beginning of increased traffic volume, increased trip times and increased aggravation for folks headed to work in the morning.

But believe it or not, today’s rush hour won’t necessarily mean traffic Armageddon. My colleague Captain Herb Emory who reports traffic conditions for AM 750 and now 95.5 FM NewsTalk WSB as well as Channel 2 Action News says the real bumper to bumper grind won’t start today.

“Right now the kids are going back to school which will add to the traffic but all the single folks that don’t have kids are starting to take their vacations now,” Emory said. “We won’t see the worst of it until after Labor Day.”

But, Emory cautions, traffic is definitely going to be worse than it was in the summer months.

“The big three (I-75, I-85 and GA 400) from the north side will start to fill up. As will I-75 on the south side,” Emory said.

More importantly Captain Herb thinks now is an important time to remind drivers about school bus safety.

“When the stop sign on the school bus comes out, traffic in both directions must stop. Unless there is a divided median between the two sides of the road. If there is no median everyone must stop,” Emory said.

Emory also reminds commuters to slow down in school zones as instructed.

“Always expect the unexpected when it comes to kids.”

Commuters can expect another bump in traffic next week. Cobb and Fulton County schools are back in session on August 15th which will certainly cause increased delays on I-75 and GA 400.