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Metro Atlanta Traffic Mess: What can be done?


Posted on Apr 19, 2012

ATLANTA -- Monday's morning traffic mess on I-285 had many people wondering how a few accidents could bring the metro Atlanta highway system to such a halt.
A pedestrian fatality on I-285 eastbound by the Ashford-Dunwoody exit led to major delays across that highway and on Ga. 400.
So what can be done? Here are some of the solutions that are in play right now:
Raise the speed limit
The Georgia Department of Transportation is looking into installing variable speed limits on I-285. They could adjust it between 55-65 miles per hour, depending on the traffic. It could also work in other situations.
Says Georgia Dept. of Transportation spokesperson Mark McKinnon, "If you have a lot of congestion and an accident, and you leave the speed limit at its higher level, people come rushing right in. "
Another Ga. DOT spokesperson, Jill Goldberg, said Monday that "the ability to raise and lower the speed limit ... would have been employed in incident situations" such as the pedestrian fatality on I-285 Monday morning.
Better enforcement 

Another school of thought says the real need is stronger enforcement on the roads -- especially as these speed limits rise -- so accidents like yesterday's don't happen as often.
"The way to do that is to ensure you have a strategy on the safety side so that the higher speeds don't result in much higher speeds," says Bob Dallas, former director of the Governor's Office of Highway Safety. "I think that can be done with the technology we have today."
And, of course, there is the big question: can the traffic be alleviated if voters choose "Yes" on a one-cent regional transportation sales tax.
We posed the question on Facebook, and quite a few folks had suggestions for fixing metro Atlanta's traffic woes. However, plenty of folks felt little could be done to make a significant dent, saying the region is just too sprawled and overpopulated at this point.

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Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia