I wish I had a silver bullet I could share, or some unheard of trick to beating traffic. I don’t. So the subject of this post is a little of a misnomer I guess. Maybe these are just general observations I’ve made after living here for a dozen years.
I used to commute down 400 in a previous life/job. I believe the traffic situation here is a lot better than it used to be. That’s probably not a comfort to those fighting it these days. The widening effort of a few years ago has helped, but I think it just moved the bottleneck from Haynes Bridge north to McFarland. In cases of major backup, GA-9 can be an alternative for limited distances.
Traffic Reports on the Radio
Practically worthless. Unless there is a traffic catastrophe, you’re better off tuning out Captain Herb et al. I’d suggest checking the Georgia Navigator website before you hit the interstates. Leave the radio off or put on something soothing to calm your road-raged nerves.
More worthless than the traffic reports. Suburbanites know how much of a time killer MARTA truly is. And on top of that, we would never go sans auto for the entire day!
The most ridiculous part of MARTA is these park and ride lots. What a waste of real estate. So I’m supposed to get in my car, fight traffic to the Windward lot, get out and wait, hop a bus to North Springs, wait, then get on a train which will only take me most of the way to work? I don’t think so. MARTA ain’t smarta, its just plain stupid.
Do not underestimate the amount of traffic you’ll face once leaving GA-400. I find this particularly true in Forsyth County where the number of four lane roads is very small. Forsyth is probably fifteen years behind north Fulton on road building and widening efforts.
Surface streets always broke up the monotony for me. It was like a game trying to find the quickest path from home to GA-400. My tip here is to look for “No Thru Trucks” signs. These signs should really say “hidden two lane road that leads somewhere else”.
Everyone knows traffic lets up in the summertime once school gets out. That first Monday of the summer break is beautiful. It is like Moses parting the GA-400 traffic. Speed limit drives in the morning! Hallelujah!
Watch the schools on the surface streets. You don’t want to be driving through active school zones. This is especially true on rainy days when every SUV in the county is waiting to turn left into the one school on your commute. If necessary, adjust your commute times to avoid schools.
I’m amazed at how many people commute east/west across the northern burbs. I work with a lot of people who live in Gwinnett or Cherokee and commute to Alpharetta. My best advice here is to watch the river! There are a limited number of places to cross the Chattahoochee River, many of which are still two lane roads. The “No Thru Trucks” trick ain’t gonna help you here! My advice… cross the river as far to the south as you can.
Best Way to Win is Not to Play
Beating Atlanta’s traffic is a myth. The best you can really hope for is to break up the monotony. My advice it to simply reduce or eliminate your commute all together. Easier said than done? Not really. I mentioned in a previous post that we choose where we live and we choose where we work. Don’t choose to have those far apart! If you think you’ve found the ideal location for work, then move closer. I live five miles from my Windward office and I love it! On the other hand, my father-in-law has worked for the same company in Lawrenceville for twenty years. He has commuted from Conyers, on surface roads, that entire time. This takes a tremendous toll after a while and I don’t know why we continue with it.
If you think you’ll be switching jobs every few years but will remain in Atlanta, you should live in Dunwoody or Sandy Springs. I believe this is the ideal spot for commuting. You’re within easy reach of downtown, midtown, Cobb, Gwinnett or North Fulton.
If you’re gonna move based on commute, do your homework! My wife and I once considered a neighborhood on McGinnis Ferry road. On the weekend we were house hunting, it seemed like a great location. Then I thought about 5:00 traffic. Turning left out of this neighborhood was impossible at rush hour. Before you get any house under contract, go visit the neighborhood during the morning commute!
Move Your Commute Times
Most companies that are even mildly progressive with their employee relations will let you adjust work hours. If you cannot move your job or home, this is your best alternative. Hitting GA-400 before sunrise, and again at 3:00 or so will all but insure you a speed limit drive. If this gets to be too much, then fall back to a more normal 8-to-5 commute once school lets out. Combine this with a semi-regular work-from-home regiment for maximum traffic busting!