Posts Tagged ‘Georgia Department of Transportation’

Georgia Transportation Folks, The Way You’re Doing It Now Doesn’t Work

December 1, 2008

  Why oh why doesn’t the Georgia legislature stop stalling development of commuter trains in the state?  My Friday night nightmare trip on rainy I-85 from Atlanta to Columbus made me once again reflect on how frustrated I get over the never-ending lane construction on I-85, and how difficult it is to get politicians to accept inevitable change. Trains are coming back because there are simply too many automobiles clogging the highways. The solution is not to continue to pour millions and millions of tons of more concrete and asphalt. The solution is mass transit.

  They learned this a very long time ago in New York City, London, Paris, Berlin and other major cities in the world. Atlanta is working on it, but is a long ways from providing enough mass transit service to come near to solving the problems of gridlock.

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Baltimore-Washington International commuter Train (Courtesy: Wikipedia)

  The highway arteries leading in and out of densely populated areas are a part of the problem and that can only be solved with commuter trains. Every time I drive to Atlanta on I-85 I reflect on the astronomical costs and unsafe travel conditions caused by construction for adding more lanes. Running two rail lines up the center of I-85 would seem a lot simpler, less costly and saner policy.

  The state does have a plan to develop rail transportation, but the legislature won’t fund it. They talk about it, but when it actually comes to switching funding priorities, they back off. Why? So far, I haven’t seen a good answer to that question. I did read where Governor Sonny Perdue is backing implementation of a the Lovejoy to Atlanta commuter train because it is practical to get it up and running on existing tracks soon.  But, I’ll believe something is actually being done when I see it.

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A Drive Through Hell Friday Night Really Brought Home the Need for New Transportation Leadership in Georgia

November 29, 2008

  The trip up to Cumming Thanksgiving morning was, fortunately, uneventful. Heavy traffic, but no delays, even through the construction obstacle course the state continues to operate endlessly, but I cannot say the same thing for coming back Friday night. That was like a ride through hell. 

  Instead of continually adding lanes at billions of dollars expense, which is stupid, because all that does is encourage more cars to fill up the lanes, it would be nice if the highway department would concentrate on safety features on the ones we have. You know, things like repainting lane lines, and dotting them with reflectors so you can see them at night. Lines one can see at night when it’s raining would be very helpful. There were times when I couldn’t see the lines because they were so dull and dim, and the glare from the lights reflecting on a wet highway surface added to the problem.  We are talking six lanes of crazy Atlanta drivers on a rainy, slippery surface,  at night, and not being able to see the lane lines! Insanity!

  The construction obstacle course along the stretch that spans the Newnan and Grantville exits, really became a challenge Friday night. Two small lanes, walled in on each side by concrete barriers and idiots who slow down for nothing and come screaming by in their monster SUV’s and pickup trucks, make it a nightmare. Rain, glare from headlights, barriers that eliminate emergency lanes, and those idiots I just mentioned and you have to wonder why there aren’t more wrecks than there are. I was afraid I was going to sideswife one of those concrete barriers at any moment, and guess what, I did. As a monster truck came whizzing by, I moved over a little too far and learned there is a buffer that gives a little when you hit it so you don’t hit the actual concrete. Scared the hell out of me, though.  

  The best stretch of road was on I-185. The surface was smooth, and dark asphalt didn’t reflect headlights, the white lines were bright and contained adequate reflectors. It was the only decent Interstate section betweeen Columbus and Atlanta.  

  Somebody in Atlanta is crazy. Well, I’m sure it’s not just one person, but whoever is running the highway show seems to be stuck in the past. Just keep adding lanes and highways is their solution. Hey, that’s the way we’ve always done it. Detroit and the contractors who build the roads love it, but, as we have seen, Detroit lives in the past. Look how long it has taken them to start building cars that get high gas mileage and cut down down on air pollution. Hey, selling the monster SUVs and trucks worked a couple of years ago so why change until … it’s too late? Ever heard staying ahead of the curve, Detroit?

  Point is, highway pols,  stop adding lanes and make the ones you have safe, and start putting down rails. It’s the future. It’s going to have to be done.  Switch those billions from concrete to rails. Actually, they should be cheaper to lay than all of those millions of tons of concrete you’re pouring into road beds.  Look to places that have faced this problem a long, long time ago. Places like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut where commuters ride to work and home everyday on trains. A rapid rail line between Columbus and Atlanta would have people living in Columbus Commuting to Atlanta just as people who live in Connecticut commute to New York City.

  Barring a catastrophe like a plague, population is going to continue its rapid rate of increase. You can’t just keep adding cars and highways.  Yes, it will require people to change their habits. But, it can be done. It has to be done.  It’s going to be done.  Change is inevitable. In order to made it positive, get ahead of the curve, transportation honchos in Atlanta. Better yet, put some forward looking people in those positions of power. NOW!