Mayor: Empty Ga. 400 now like NASCAR

Fewer drivers on the road due to the coronavirus outbreak should not translate to excessive speeding when folks leave home, said Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

His complaint follows reports from Sandy Springs police that 52 people have been stopped for driving over 100 mph on Ga. 400 and I-285 in the past three weeks. Some were driving up to 129 mph, Paul commented.

“People have turned 400 and 285 into NASCAR,” Paul said. “Just because people are staying home doesn’t open the roadways to excessive speed,” Paul said during a City Council meeting held by video conference Tuesday.

Roadways have had little traffic activity since March when residents began to shelter in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Sgt. Salvador Ortega, public information officer for the police department, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that excessive speeding is an ongoing issue in Sandy Springs. Twenty-one speeders were stopped in the past seven days, he said. Most of the 52 stops were on Ga. 400.

“There have been about 330 crashes (on Ga. 400 and I-285) in the past 30 days,” he added. “It’s about average to what we normally work but the number should be way lower due to the decrease in traffic.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation reported that traffic volumes on southbound Ga. 400 were down 30-35%, last month, while average speeds were up.

“I think the police Chief [Ken DeSimone] and his team are out there to make sure that people not only survive this virus, but they survive the reckless driving that’s going on right now on many of our roads and streets, because they are not as occupied and congested as they normally are,” said Paul.