Gilltrans.net

An Intelligent Transportation and Connected Vehicle Research Blog

Was thinking about the Untie Atlanta commercial #TSPLOST It implies new highways being built but what we need are smart solutions.

Let me start by saying that the application of “band aids” to help ease some of the traffic bottlenecks in Metro Atlanta is not bad and should not be seen as negative.  I commend Governor Deal, his administration , GDOT, etc… for doing what families are having to do more and more often – making do with less.

That said, there is a limit, and on July 31st, 12 regions (Metro Atlanta being far and away the most significant) will vote on levying a one cent sales tax to pay for a list of transportation initiatives.

A look at the Atlanta Region’s list shows a renovation of the GA 400 interchange with 285 up to Spalding Dr., as well as a study of extending MARTA to Holcomb Bridge and intersection improvements at Holcomb Bride as well.  But besides that, GA 400 is pretty much left as-is.

Meanwhile, arguably the busiest corridor in Atlanta – GA 400 gets a series of well-intentioned “fixes”  – all of which were done over as few as one overnight work-a-thon before the opening.  For whatever reason, GA 400 has been the target of a number of small improvements, most of which have occurred over one evening in advance of rush hour the next day.

First there was the change where GA 400 ends and dumps into southbound I-85.  One lane was taken from I-85 and given to GA 400 to improve the merge.  The result predictably improved GA 400 at the expense of I-85.  Can only presume that commuters have adjusted to the change.  Actually, there is a major project begun that will provide a real change and improvement.

Next, there was the decision to allow the southbound shoulders (meant for MARTA buses and emergency vehicles) to be used from 630 to 930 am south of Holcomb Bridge.  There has been a lot of push-back from the emergency management community about losing their emergency lane.

Finally, the right lane previously dedicated to exiting and entering traffic between McFarland (Exit 12) and Holcomb Bridge (Exit 7) has been converted to an extra lane making the deceleration and acceleration areas much smaller.

Early success of thee changes has been mixed.  The improvement has been difficult to quantify, but there is some empirical evidence form my wife who commutes Alpharetta to Perimeter 4 times a week.  She reports that traffic is backing up more getting on GA 400 at each exit.  Also, while the Haynes Bridge to Holcomb Bride gridlock seems to have improved, traffic is now backing up at the Chattahoochee river (MM15)  when before this area was usually moving pretty well.  It is as if the delay has been pushed upstream (onto arterials) and downstream.

I have just a few thoughts about the changes:

  • Ramp meters were placed a lot of places but having them where the changes on GA 400 occurred might have helped.
  • If these changes were so great why wasn’t the road designed this way in the first place. (Especially the seemingly bonus lane between Exits 12 and 7.)
  • The former layout of GA 400 was the result of a full engineering study.  There is no way the changes were studied in this manner.
  • Adding a MARTA train wouldn’t make a dent in the issue.

My drive through Atlanta’s new diverging diamond http://t.co/dHEg5hGC

“@StreetsblogNet: Oh come on, Texas. RT @urbanophile Texas may have 85MPH speed limit on new toll road – http://t.co/wr9jcsso” transtxcorr??

New Diverging Diamond interchange design targets traffic snarls | http://t.co/TbK8gAIv http://t.co/dDrDCAG2 via @sharethis

Just curious, are Linkedin Groups still relevant. So few of mine have discussions any more. If you think they are becoming less important…

City of Charlotte, North Carolina, Implements Intergraph®’s Incident Management Software 04-26-2012: http://t.co/5No0mcFB

Check out @CarlieStylezz’s video about @Arbys $10,000 #GourmazingGiveaway Watch to learn about your chance to win! https://t.co/IhtTU4yW

Atlanta’s MARTA Approves $1.16 Billion Clifton Corridor Light Rail Project – Decatur-Avondale Estates, GA Patch http://t.co/M07jYEj7

My son is home sick today and is currently watching Phineas and Ferb on Disney Channel.   If you do not have kids in your family you may be unaware, but these two boys are 9 and 12 year-old step-brothers who each week build something incredible to have fun on their summer vacation.  They have a 15-year-old sister, Candace, who is always trying to ‘bust’ their brothers to their mom.  But every time the mom turns to look at the thing they brothers built, it disappears somehow.  It is fair to suggest that there is nothing extraordinary built, that it is in the boy’s imagination.  Maybe Candace is on the border where she has some imagination when with the boys but not when she is with the mom.

How does this relate???  In Atlanta, the general public (the voter) is like the mom. Until the road is built, improved, etc…talk about it is futile.  The transportation community (of which I consider myself) is like Phineas and Ferb.  We can solve any traffic problem using technology and/or new construction.  Money is no object (we wish!).  Those opposing the T-SPLOST are somewhat like Candace, they are trying to convince the public that the projects in the T-SPLOST are either the wrong ones, or they cost too much or simply that we’re already over-taxed.   In reality the project plans don’t disappear if there is no T-SPLOST, they just never bet built… or we keep getting schoolyard solutions like moving the stripe at the I-85/GA 400 interchange.

Not to pick on another childhood story, but the public doesn’t like to hear the transportation leaders cry wolf.  In the late 90’s the buzz was the Northern Bypass…never happened.  John Oxendine promoted the GA 400 to I-675 tunnel while running for governor…I have lost count how many times the I-75/_I-575 HOT lane project has been turned off and on.  I think it is currently “on” but don’t hold your breath…Those not understanding that transit needs density, are clamoring to extend the Red Line to Holcomb Bridge or even North Point Mall or Windward…

I fear that the list of projects that are on the T-SPLOST look like more of the same…pipe dreams the public thinks will never happen – EVEN IF THE VOTE PASSES.

If the T-SPLOST vote is to pass, the voter must look past Candace (the nay-sayers – including the Tea Party*) and even Phineas and Ferb (the transportation community) and turn to the real selling point – the need to upgrade our transportation infrastructure to keep jobs here and coming here.  I have not seen evidence of a champion (an anti-Candace so to speak) of the T-SPLOST vote – only the commercials that have begun to air (untieatlanta.com).  There needs to be someone of high visibility promoting this vote if they expect it to have a chance of passing.  I think this person needs to be a Republican -because everyone assumes only Democrats can support a tax.  A Republican who sees this as a rare necessary new tax would have some credibility and might lead other like-minded Republicans to vote in support.

*BTW I agree with the Tea Party much of the time but this is an exception