I-85/GA 400 Ramp Construction Finally Begins

According to an article published this week in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, construction is finally beginning on 2 new ramps at the I-85/GA 400 interchange in Atlanta’s affluent Buckhead community.

One will be a “flyover” to connect GA 400 southbound with I-85 northbound. The other ramp will connect I-85 southbound with GA 400 northbound.

Currently, those travelling down GA 400 or I-85’s respective southbound lanes one must navigate Lenox Road, Buford Highway (GA 13) and Sidney Marcus Boulevard to go between these 2 major freeways’ opposite directions. This needlessly adds too much traffic to these three surface streets, interferes with local traffic, and creates major “bottlenecks” in the process… especially during rush hour.

Last year, GDOT awarded the $21,500,000 project to Archer Western Contractors. Said funds are coming from toll revenues collected before GDOT and SRTA renewed the GA 400 tolls for another 10-year period.

When the 6 mile (10 km) GA 400 extension from I-85 to I-285 was being constructed in the early 1990s, GDOT could’ve added the ramps as part of the process, but failed to do so. Since the 1970s, Atlanta’s traffic was getting worse and worse by the day and GDOT surely must’ve known that. Perhaps if the extra ramps were built at the time, the cost may have been somewhat less. For that matter, it would not have provided SRTA and GDOT any excuse for continuing the tolls after promising to drop them after the original GA 400 bonds were paid off.

In any event, I’m happy to see that the sorely-needed ramps are indeed being built and look forward to the day they are opened.

Want to see what they will look like? Then please watch this video from “Livable Buckhead“…

As Looney Tunes would say, “That’s All, Folks!” Thanks for reading, don’t forget to set your clocks ahead one hour this weekend for Daylight Savings Time, and please come back often.

What About Ponce de Leon’s Potholes?

On March 1st, the Georgia DOT (GDOT) announced $20,000,000 worth of various road and bridge projects let statewide.

Interestingly enough, there are no Metro Atlanta projects on the master list (please click here for the list).

Recently, Atlanta’s CBS 46 “Pothole Patrol” pointed out the sad situation of potholes on the stretch of Ponce de Leon Avenue (US 29/78/278/GA 8/10) in East Atlanta. Please click here to watch the video entitled “Ponce de Pothole”.

While I’m cool with GDOT spreading money across the state to help fix existing transportation infrastructure (including replacing antiquated bridges with sturdy new structures), I have to wonder why they have allowed Ponce de Leon Avenue (a.k.a. “Ponce”) to become a plethora of potholes over the past several years.

Given that Ponce is not just a city street, but a state highway… and a very well-traveled one at that… shouldn’t said thoroughfare be given a little more priority than it has been? Don’t get me wrong; all Georgia highways should be maintained as well as possible, but it seems to me that GDOT is giving Ponce the “short shrift” by doing no more than putting proverbial “Band-Aids” on it (e.g. pothole filling). Granted that our tax dollars may not be quite as plentiful, but IMHO some roads should get a little higher priority if they have become hazardous to drivers. Any road with a plethora of potholes should be fixed, and that, dear reader, would be an extremely wise use of our tax dollars!!!

My hope is that “Ponce” will one day no longer
be called “Ponce de Pothole” and that drivers would not have to treat it as an obstacle course. As much as folks aren’t exactly “warm and fuzzy” about taxes, auto repairs (e.g. realignments) tend to suck the bucks out of our bank accounts as well.

Have you driven on Ponce lately? Do you use Ponce as
part of your daily commute to and from your job? What are your thoughts?
Please feel free to share them either in the comments section of this
blog or via our Facebook page.

And finally, thanks to fellow Atlanta-area roadgeek Bryant Anderson at “Southern Roadgeek” for bringing this to my attention. Bryant also has his own blog, Twitter, and videos, as well as his own Facebook page, all of which are extremely worth reading, subscribing to, and “liking”.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, have a great weekend, and please visit often.

I-75/575 HOT Lane Plans Revived

It’s baaaaaaack.

That’s right, dear readers. The plan to build high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties is back.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and several legislators have proposed that the state provide an additional $300,000,000 in taxpayer funds that otherwise would have been provided through a public-private partnership (P3).

The estimated costs of these new HOT lanes is approximately $870,000,000, which would come from the following sources…

Motor Fuel Taxes: $500,000,000 (was $200,000,000 under the P3 plan)
Loan From Federal Government: $270,000,000
Bonds: $100,000,000

The Georgia DOT (GDOT), however, would still have to approve this latest incarnation.

Unlike the I-85 HOT lanes, these would be brand new reversible lanes built alongside the existing Interstates. However, given that these lanes would be paid for primarily using our tax dollars, I would much rather see these lanes being built as high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes instead of so-called “Lexus lanes” that would essentially make them “rich people’s” lanes for solo drivers.

If said lanes are truly about congestion reduction, it would be much wiser IMHO to make them “HOV-2” (one driver, plus one or more passengers) that would allow carpools, buses (e.g. GRTA Xpress), motorcycles, emergency vehicles, and alternative-fueled vehicles (e.g. natural gas-powered cars).

So far, there’s no mention of the Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), but it’s a sure-fire bet that their hands would definitely be involved in this whole deal as the state’s tolling agency… and as SRTA has already shown us with GA 400 and the I-85 HOT lanes, they looooove to take our hard-earned money and give us the shaft.

If anyone at GDOT is reading this blog, then I urge you to listen to Georgia’s drivers and reject this project altogether. All drivers, regardless of income level, race, creed, color, etc., deserve an equal opportunity to use Georgia’s highways and making people pay to use lanes that their tax dollars already paid for amounts to “double taxation”.

Governor Deal and GDOT, I thank you very much for rejecting the prior I-75/I-575 P3 proposal. Please, however, go one step further and reject the toll option altogether.

If you, dear Georgia readers, wish to contact GDOT and urge them to put the brakes on HOT lanes altogether, then please click here.

Please also let your elected officials in the Georgia General Assembly know as well. To find your State Senator and/or Representative, please click here.

Bottom line is this… HOT lanes are a bad idea. They really don’t help congestion and are a colossal waste of taxpayer money. However, we, the people can work together to throw cold water on the HOT lanes and assure that any and all transportation plans can be tailored to benefit all Georgians. If anyone wants to build a toll road, then they are more than welcome to pay for it themselves (raise capital, purchase right-of-way, design, build, and maintain), market it to drivers, and assume the responsibility for their private road just like you would if you opened your own business.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and please come back often.

SOURCE: “Plan Would Fund I-75/I-575 Toll Project“, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 2, 2012

Our New England Adventure

A week-and-a-half ago, Mary and I traveled to the New England area to see my little brother Chris assume command of the USS Springfield in a formal ceremony at the U.S. Submarine Base in Groton/New London, Connecticut.

My brother, Commander Chris Williams, and I in Connecticut
(Photo By Mary Williams)

The Williams Family at the Naval Submarine Library and Museum in Groton, CT.
(Photo By Amy Rossetti)

During our brief stay in Connecticut, we also found some time to do a little touring around Groton, New London, and Mystic, plus a jaunt up to the Mohegan Sun Casino to celebrate Chris’s new assignment over dinner at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.

Given our time constraints, Mary and I decided to fly Delta from Atlanta to Boston and then rent a car to drive down to Groton, approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Boston just off I-95 near the Rhode Island state line.

Roadgeek-wise, I got to drive through part of Boston’s famous “Big Dig”, the Ted Williams Tunnel (I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike), which was a $3.50 toll for drivers heading into Boston from Logan International Airport.

Speaking of the toll, the vehicle in front of us was stopped at the plaza for at least 5 minutes, causing traffic to queue up. After he finally pulled off and it was my turn to pay the toll, the “Mass Pike” collector explained to me that the guy was German and apparently did not realize that this was a toll road, so she waved him through. I remarked that though I was from Georgia, I knew there was a toll. We didn’t exactly have a long chat, since I didn’t want to hold up traffic any longer, but I thought it was kinda funny. Hopefully, the poor guy got off the “Mass Pike” before he got to another plaza, which may not have been quite as charitable to him as the nice lady at the Ted Williams plaza.

On our way to Groton, I got to drive the southernmost 16 miles (26 km) of I-93 and the southernmost 12 miles (19 km) of I-95 in Massachusetts, and “clinch” all 43.5 miles (70 km) of I-95 in Rhode Island. 
I also “clinched” 3 Massachusetts counties (Bristol, Norfolk, and Suffolk), 3 Rhode Island counties (Kent, Providence, and Washington), and one (1) Connecticut county (New London).

During our 3-day stay in Connecticut, I drove a total of 24 miles (38 km) of I-95, plus drive the southernmost 9.5 miles (15 km) of I-395.

In Connecticut, I noticed a lot of “button-copy” signage and
how several of the signs showed “outlined” route markers. Connecticut
also likes to put the exit tabs in the center, as opposed to on the
right (or left for left-hand exits) as per MUTCD standards. Here’s a
photo I took of one of the overhead gantries on I-95 southbound near

Like Georgia did until 2000, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island number their exits sequentially instead of by milepost.

For those of you who are fans of state names within Interstate shields, Connecticut is your place, since most of their signpost-mounted Interstate shields are of that “old-school” type (similar to how Georgia does it). Here’s one of them (with “yours truly”) near the Old Mistick Village…

Above photo taken by Mary Williams.

On I-395 southbound, just south of the Mohegan Sun Casino, I noticed a rest area with a Mobil gas station. Since non-tolled Interstates do not normally allow commercial businesses in rest areas, it is apparently a holdout from when I-395 was part of the pre-1985 Connecticut Turnpike toll road (now known as the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike).

Last Saturday, I drove back to Boston from Groton… in 100 miles of snowy highways.

Before we could leave, I had to dig the car out of snow before leaving our hotel in Mystic…

Above photo taken by Mary Williams.

After digging out the car and hitting the snowy, slippery road to Boston, Mary took several more photos along our journey.

Here’s how I-95 northbound looked in Connecticut…

I-95 in Rhode Island wasn’t much different as shown below…

As we approached I-93 in Massachusetts, the plows were in force and the roads were a lot clearer as shown in the final “winter road” photo below…

In Massachusetts, we noticed that several of the plows working along the roads were private contractors. Perhaps GDOT could take note next time we get another “snowmageddon”.

By the time we arrived at our hotel in Boston after being on the road for at least 4 hours, I was not exactly smiling as I was in the photo where I was digging out the car. In fact, it was one of those rare moments where I was just freakin’ sick and tired of driving. This was the longest I have ever driven in crappy winter weather. BTW, I think I’ve changed my mind on pursuing a career in ice road trucking.

The next morning, it was bright, sunny, and I-93 and I-90 were nice and clear of snow and ice on our way to Logan Airport to drop off the rental car and catch our flight back to Atlanta… and milder weather.

Overall, we had a nice experience in New England, got to see my brother (and even tour his boat), see some sights, drive more Interstates, and “clinch” more counties. Next time, I’d like to visit the area in the warmer months and drive the rest of Boston’s “Big Dig”.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and please come back often.

GA 400 Breakdown Lane Could Become Travel Lane

Hi, Y’all!

Hope your new year has gotten off to a good start and that all is well with you and yours.

Here are GRG HQ, I haven’t been blogging as much as I had been over the last 6 years, and since it’s been at least a month since I’ve written a blog, I figured it was time to get off my butt and do so.

In most recent Georgia road news, Governor Nathan Deal is proposing that a section of breakdown lane on US 19/GA 400 from the North Springs MARTA Station (Exit 5C) to Holcomb Bridge Road/GA 140 (Exit 7) be converted to a regular travel lane during rush hour.

Right now, the breakdown lane in question already serves as an auxiliary bus travel lane for MARTA and GRTA Xpress buses to use when traffic is going slower than 35 MPH (60 km/h). Otherwise, it is designed strictly for vehicles that need to get off the road due to accidents or breakdowns and for emergency vehicles to use when they are rushing to a scene.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea (and it least it doesn’t involve tolls), but what about emergency vehicles that need to get to a scene (e.g. traffic accident)? If traffic on 400 is slammed (and boy, it can get slammed), then response times could seriously be affected. Depending on the extent of injuries, mere seconds could be the difference between life and death. Furthermore, how are you going to route traffic around accidents that cannot move off the road? The variable message signs can warn drivers at certain points to avoid the congested section in question, but for those who have unfortunately been caught up the mess by no fault of their own, it could be a potential logistical nightmare.

GDOT estimates the cost of converting the total of 11.5 miles (18.4 km) of existing lanes in question at US$1,000,000, versus US$3,000,000/mile (US$1,875,000/km). Frankly, I would prefer that the lanes be converted with new breakdown lanes added. Granted it would cost much more to add new lanes, but as a taxpayer, I would much rather see my tax dollars spent on doing the job properly.

As an additional alternative, perhaps GDOT could consider building at least a couple of shorter stretches of emergency lane to the right of the lanes for the purposes of mitigating any bottleneck potential. Said lanes could be built using asphalt instead of concrete to save some money. Just a thought.

What are your thoughts on this idea? Please feel free to post them in the comments section.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, please visit (and “like”) the GRG Facebook page, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

SOURCE: “Governor’s GA 400 Plan Sparks Alarm“, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 14, 2012.

I-75/575 HOT Lane Plans Stopped

To those of us who aren’t too happy with GDOT/SRTA “Lexus Lanes”, it seems that Santa Claus came a little bit early this week, as the plans for High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties were stopped… at least for now.

Could it be that thousands of Georgia’s drivers, including “yours truly”, aren’t too tickled about HOT lanes and that our elected officials are (perhaps) finally getting the picture? I’m not so sure, but our friend Chris Haley at “Stolen Lanes” tends to think so… and I like his assessment. Please click here to see his interview on CBS Atlanta 46.

On the south side of Metro Atlanta, there are similar plans for I-75 in Clayton and Henry Counties. Hopefully, these will suffer the same fate as their northern counterparts, but we shall see.

For now, I’m thankful for the fact that we aren’t going to see any more “Lexus Lanes” here in Georgia anytime soon. Yes, traffic in Metro Atlanta sucks, but we need solutions that will be beneficial to all drivers, regardless of income, race, color, etc.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, please visit (and “like”) our Facebook page, and please subscribe to our Twitter page.

… and may you and yours have a very happy and safe holiday season!!!