Construction work at the interchange of I-285 and Ga. 400 on Aug. 8, 2019. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Opinion: Gridlocked commuters won’t be sympathetic to slower road-building

It’s no secret that we spend way too much time in our cars. The commute stinks. And it shows no signs of easing.

All of which explains why this week’s announcement by the Georgia Department of Transportation went over like a fender-bender on Ga. 400. During a rain storm. On a Friday evening.

Citing increased freight traffic out of Savannah, as well as other factors, GDOT decided to hit the gas on some road projects, such as widening I-85 in Jackson County, while tapping the brakes on others – particularly those aimed at addressing Atlanta’s traffic mess.

Those toll lanes on Ga. 400? They’ll have to wait a little longer. So, too, will the I-285 express lanes.

Rusty Paul, the mayor of Sandy Springs, was among those surprised by the announcement.

He agrees that GDOT’s plans to break projects into smaller pieces could save money. But he’s also concerned about the prospect of forcing commuters to navigate a number of smaller construction projects.

As he put it: “I’m not sure what the motivation is. It’s hard to understand what the benefits are going to be.”

Exactly.

While no one is expecting the state to place a higher value on one person’s commute than someone else’s, GDOT needs to do a better job of explaining its thinking. And the agency needs to live up to the words in its press release, using the additional time to coordinate with local officials and study transit options.

Those of us stuck in our cars demand it.

The Editorial Board.

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