Opinion: Why Atlanta’s roads are no match for events like I-85 collapse

The goings-on at the Legislature have been overshadowed by the fire beneath and collapse of I-85 near Piedmont Road in Atlanta. Fortunately, so far there are no reports of injuries among motorists or first responders. But it is clear this is a disaster that will reverberate for weeks if not months.

I wrote a piece a couple of years ago when a small airplane crashed on I-285 and knotted up traffic (even more than usual) for hours. I’m republishing that analysis here now, because even though we can see the hopeful outlines of relief in some of the plans the state has for the increased revenue for transportation approved two years ago, it will take much more in the way of alternative routes and modes of transportation before metro Atlanta can withstand our daily traffic disruptions — much less an event like this.

***

I’ve been told that roughly half of the congestion in metro Atlanta is caused by one-time incidents — weird occurrences are the worst examples, but all-too common is the spate of traffic accidents around the area that mean a commute home can be decent one day and dreadful the next. The H.E.R.O. units have helped reduce some of the fallout from these accidents by clearing the roads more quickly, but there’s only so much that can be done with a map that looks like this:

Atlanta map

As those of us who live around here are painfully aware, there is no way besides 285 to move east-west in the near northern suburbs — i.e., the area where the plane went down today — without either dropping down 85 and coming back up 75, or vice-versa, or taking one’s chances on our over-matched arterial roads and surface streets. The same is true for people going north-south, or east-west across the middle of town, or … well, you get the idea. Not only do our interstates funnel everyone passing through town on 75, 85 or 20 through a single geographic point downtown, but there is virtually no redundancy to alleviate those routes when something shuts one or more of them down.

Compare that map to the following ones for Dallas:

Dallas map

Denver:

Denver map

And Houston:

Houston map

(NB: The maps for all four cities are on the same scale and for roughly the same-sized area.)

We compete in many ways with the other three cities. But while we hear a good bit about transit developments in those cities, only Denver has more transit trips per capita. The main way in which they whip us from an infrastructure standpoint is their far more robust highway networks. That’s a big reason why Dallas and Denver rank lower than Atlanta on one widely cited congestion index, and why Houston is about the same as us even though its population is about one-sixth larger.

More transit can play a role, but we are not going to insulate ourselves even a bit from the effects of these freak accidents, much less our daily game of car-wreck roulette, without creating some redundancy in our highway system.

There are plans out there to do just that. But while I’ve argued the new funding from this year’s transportation bill will go farther than a lot of observers contend, it won’t give us truly transformative change without the political will to direct funding to this problem even to the exclusion of other needs, as well as the political will to overcome objections to some of the proposed projects.

I wonder how many more days like this one it will take to get us there.

Reader Comments 0

206 comments
lvg
lvg

According to DOT, I 285 was built as emergency relief road  for I-85.

breckenridge
breckenridge

"Over the years, the Freedom Caucus has repeatedly demanded more while refusing to compromise. In 2013, a group of conservatives who later became part of the Freedom Caucus won major concessions on the farm bill, and then still voted against it. In 2015, the caucus made demands for a free-trade bill that were clearly intended to kill the legislation. Their demands were not met and the bill passed without their support."

"It’s what they do: They move the goal posts, and once that happens, they still refuse to play. We are the Charlie Brown party, hoping that this time, things will be different. But time and again, the Freedom Caucus is Lucy — pulling the ball out from under us, letting us take the fall and smiling to themselves for making a splash. It’s a cheap tactic, not a way to govern, and enough is enough." US Congressman Adam Kinzinger, R- Illinois, 4-2-2017


Yep, that's the Tea Party alright - cheap, sleazy, no ethics, morally bankrupt bunch of dirtbag parasites.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 House Freedom Caucus Member Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) urged President Trump to continue working with the caucus, because they have been a staunch ally of his throughout his tenure.

Gohmert said on "Sunday Morning Futures" that Trump and the Freedom Caucus came to agreements twice during the ObamaCare replacement negotiations, but that "establishment" figures convinced the president to rebuff them.


Republican 'establishment' leaders like Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus "had a meeting" and decided to "go to war against the people that defended the president, when Ryan and those guys abandoned him," Gohmert said.


I can see this happening by next week.

breckenridge
breckenridge

April 2 - Three protesters may move ahead with their lawsuit against President Donald Trump's campaign and two Trump supporters, one of them a white nationalist, who attacked them at a Kentucky rally last year. 

While US District Judge David Hale ruled out the notion that the attackers were Trump's agents, he said it's plausible the would-be president incited a riot. He denied the defendant's motions to dismiss or strike portions of the complaint. 

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 Liberals are delusional. They are so hysterical over President Donald Trump that they’ve convinced themselves they’re winning.

This is hilarious. Trump is destroying them every single day and they’re too blind, deaf and arrogant to notice.

These groups are so delusional they don’t even know the president is wiping away Barack Obama’s agenda and policies as if they never existed. Obama is being erased from the record books.


Fact


http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/columns/wayne-allyn-root/commentary-welcome-trumpland-where-the-president-enjoys-the-upper

breckenridge
breckenridge

Have you ever faced an American enemy? BTW...when, where and how have you ever served the country?

General Michael Flynn served his country honorably for a number of years.  But then he disgraced the uniform and sold his country out for a few gold coins waved in front of his nose by Vlad Putin. 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge  Have you ever faced an American enemy? Have you ever served the country? Guess the answer is never. As for General Flynn, we haven't seen any accusation or proof that he sold out the country.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Dems have no interest in helping Trump and Republicans, so they'll fight on all fronts. A senior Democratic aide emails that the party realizes its leverage: "[A] shutdown... would completely be viewed by the public as a function of Republican dysfunction."


Got that^^? The democrats don't care about the effects of a shutdown, only that Republicans get blamed for it. Nice people, aren't they?


The House Freedom Caucus wants to use the coming budget fight to shrink government by defunding Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.


And the Freedom Caucus is now back in my good graces.


https://www.axios.com/

breckenridge
breckenridge

@AndyManUSA#45 

Defending Planned Parenthood would lead to billions and billions of additional welfare and Medicaid costs.  No fiscal conservative would ever support such a move; only scum at the bottom of the toilet social conservative trash would.

Breaking news: If you think the government should be involved in legislating religion, then you're neither a conservative nor liberal. What you are is a goddam traitor.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge @AndyManUSA#45  "Defending Planned Parenthood would lead to billions and billions of additional welfare and Medicaid costs". Well we can finally agree on something.

Resist Trump
Resist Trump

@AndyManUSA#45

Payback's a beeyotch, IReport. Your team has earned every single ferkin thing that's coming to them.

breckenridge
breckenridge

This morning a Tea Party (Freedom Caucus) guy from the US House accused Trump of now being the Establishment.


Tea Party Timeline:


2003: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

2004: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

2005: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

2006: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

2007: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

2008: Deficit spending, no Tea Party.

Early 2009: Obama takes office, Tea Party immediately forms howling about deficit spending.


The Tea Party is nothing if not disingenuous.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Amazing to see these far-left dirt bags call people traitors and talk about patriotism when most of them have never done anything to serve the country.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

Amazing how these punks put politics above country.


Russia is our enemy. End of story.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

In a matter of weeks, President Trump has taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they are not reversed, will rip families apart, foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the calamitous effects of climate change and profoundly weaken the system of American public education for all.


How galling is it to listen to some panty waist liberal lecture us on "ripping families apart?" How about their defense of an education system that ranks 28th in the developed world? 


You libs are really asking for it.


http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-ed-our-dishonest-president/

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Even the NYT is reporting that Obamacare is falling apart.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 WASHINGTON –  U.S. consumer confidence climbed to its highest level in more than 16 years, a strong gain for one of President Donald Trump's preferred economic indicators.

The Conference Board said Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 125.6 in March from 116.1 in February, the best reading since December 2000. The index measures both consumers' assessment of current conditions and their expectations for the future. Both improved this month.


The libs hate American prosperity. Hate it. Look at them seethe.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Face it, cons - Trump is a traitorous, lying POS and utterly incompetent president. Setting aside the Russia connections, which are going to lead to a spectacularly ignominious early exit from office, his is the most worthless administration in history, already having been exposed as being utterly incapable of getting anything done.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

"The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI's independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration's use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends," Grassley wrote in a letter to Comey dated March 28.


********


Maybe Comey is continuing the investigation to blur his own role in the Obama administration's improper and illegal snooping on his party’s opponents. He has not closed the investigation despite its apparently flimsy basis, perhaps to protect himself. He was supposed to report this investigation in a timely manner to the Congressional and Senate intelligence committees and did not.


Starting to see where this is going?

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

I think Comey would make an excellent witness, while we are on the discussion of immunity.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 Flynn was Obama’s head of the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) and served only days under Trump. Reports this week initially made it appear that He was under investigation for ties to Russia, but it is more obvious to me that he knows about skullduggery by the prior administration in the Middle East, most likely Iran, and wants protection against the sort of unwarranted prosecutions Ted Stevens and Lewis Libby suffered at the hands of vindictive Democrats and their minions. The charges against him are being leveled by former Obama aide Sally Yates, who has utterly discredited herself earlier by her demonstrably false claim that the White House blocked her from testifying to Congress when the documentation clearly shows she was not.


He'd be crazy not to ask for immunity.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Earlier today the Senate Intelligence Committee rejected General Michael Flynn's offer to testify before the committee in the Russian election interference affair if he was granted immunity from prosecution.


So........if he's done nothing wrong would he request immunity? Of course not.  And yet the buffoon bunch, in their self-imposed state of denial, will insist there is no story here.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Why do we have so many Black perpetrators of crime? It seems that every time I see some article about crime there's Black people involved. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

So did you find that link between the I-85 bridge burning and the radical Islamic terrorists yet?


You can change your looks, you can change jobs, you can change your marital status........but you can't change stupid.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Russians are not our enemies.  They are rivals.  Yuuuuge difference.

Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.  The way these Trump punks defend Russia.....real Americans just spit in their faces.

Now run along and read your Breitbart garbage, pretend you're  dealing with a real news source and not a bunch of losers that would not know journalist integrity if it bit them in the arse.

 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge  Are you really stupid  or are you just trying  to suck up to your far-left base. The left that you subscribe to are the Russian apologists.

bu22
bu22

@SGTGrit @breckenridge Just repeating his talking points that they have given him.  He isn't allowed to think so there's no way to judge his intelligence.  I guess they think if they call names and repeat hypocritical nonsense enough times somebody may believe them.  Or it could just be like Middlebury, trying to bully and shout down anybody who doesn't tow their line, even committing violence against some of their own like that professor.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@bu22 @SGTGrit @breckenridge 


Russia has been our enemy since the end of World War II.  But all of a sudden, since you low IQ dips that live to lick Trump's drawers want to see an FBI led inquiry snuffed, they're not an enemy.........they're a rival.


Get the hell out of America. We have no use for traitors like you.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

And all you fascist troggies can go live on the island with him.

bu22
bu22

@JohnnyReb The Democrats have been doing that for years on Social Security and Medicare.  Don't know what their endgame is.  In the 80s they had responsible people who were willing to work with Ronald Reagan to fix it for 40 years.  Now they have Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and Barack Obama, denying that there is even a problem.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Starik @JohnnyReb @BecauseIsaidSo23

we have two Georgia's: Atlanta and burbs, and everywhere else with a sprinkled exception here and there.

The Conservative resistance to Atlanta is the only thing that is keeping it from becoming another Detroit.

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @Starik @BecauseIsaidSo23 More than two Georgias. (1) Urban whites. (2) Urban blacks, (not just Atlanta) (3) Rural whites (4) Rural blacks and (5) Hispanics (6) Suburban whites (7) Suburban blacks.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

Look at what wapo has to say -


The fact that Republicans need Democrats to vote for a temporary spending measure to avoid a shutdown gives Democrats leverage to force the GOP to abandon plans to attack funding for environmental programs and Planned Parenthood.


The democrats are going to shut the government down over planned "parenthood" and global"warming?"


ahahahahahahahahaha, go ahead, make our day.


If this trick works on the squish republicans, the shooting war starts the following morning.


Fact

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@AndyManUSA#45

Yes, there is ample indication the Republican leadership are afraid of their shadow and no matter it their fault are concerned a shutdown would be blamed on them.