Posts Tagged ‘I-85’

How about Rail, Chairman Olens?

January 27, 2009

  Columbus has its transportation problems,  but they are minuscule compared to those in the Atlanta area,  and to those driving to and from the Atlanta area,  which includes a lot of Columbus people, including me.  Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens,  as we said yesterday,  is so concerned about the problem, he says, he may run for govenor if the state legislature doesn’t address the problem.  When he spoke to members of the Roatry Club of Columbus, he didn’t mention the governor part,  just the transportation crisis.

One thing he wants is for the state to route pass-through trucks around Atlanta,  and send them though other sections of the state.   He knows this can mean new highways,  but he thinks these highways can help development in other areas of Georgia. 

I brought up the construction nightmare on I-85 around Newnan, telling him that I no longer plan to use I-85.  The last time I went to Atlanta I decided to come back on Georgia 85 and was glad.  Even if it was mainly two-lanes,  it was still a much more pleasant drive.

“I noticed you said nothing about rail in your talk today,” I told him.  “Everything I read about it says that rail is the most efficient way to transport masses of people.”

“I wasn’t sure that people in Columbus, or other parts of the state were interested or ready to talk about rail.”

Chairman Sam Olens, Cobb County Board of Commissioners; William Buck, Rotarian

Chairman Sam Olens, Cobb County Board of Commissioners; William Buck, Buck Ice and Coal Company, and Rotarian; Rebecca Hardin, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and Rotarian

Among Rotarians involved in the after-the-speech conversation was William Buck who said,  “It would be great if we could take a train to Atlanta for $3  the way we did years ago.”

Olen said,  “You may as well make it free as to charge $3,”   but he realized we are interested.  Of course,  that one-way $3 was on the Man O’ War that went into service right after World War Two.  Factoring in inflation, that $3 would be about $25 now.   

“Are you for rail? I asked  him.

“Well, yes ,  but it is very expensive to build.”

“Pouring millions of tons of concrete or asphalt is also very expensive.  Why not just switch that money to rail?”

“I have said more than once that I would like to see light rail built in my county.”

For some reason, the legislature just won’t seriously consider mass transit, preferring to pour billions into adding lanes and building more highways.  It’s hard to change old habits, I guess.

Another big issue to Cobb County is water,  or, I suppose more accurately, the shortage of it, and what to do about it.  Former head of the Columbus Water Works Billy Turner talked with Olens briefly about that,  and said he would like to discuss it more, and Olens said he hoped they would.  Billy talked a lot about it with me.  We’ll look at that one tomorrow.  




When the Old Way is the Better Way

December 31, 2008


Georgia 85

Georgia 85

 Once again, I became totally frustrated driving to and from the Atlanta area on I-85. Remember when I told you about running into one of temporary concrete barriers when I drove back at night in the rain? That was the day after Thanksgiving.  Well, when I drove up weekend before last to Smyrna for my great-nephew’s wedding,  while driving through the construction area near Newnan, I ran off the road,  ending up with screeching tires as I turned back onto the road.  It was hairy.

  I decided, that’s it. When I drive back to Columbus, I am not going to use I-85. I’ll take the old slow way on Georgia 85. I did and I don’t think it took me much longer to get back, and it was a lot more pleasant.  I just about had the highway to myself most of the way, and it was nice to ride through the small towns like Gay and Manchester. They appear to be frozen in time.  Gay and Manchester both looked the same way they looked 40 years ago.

  So next time you head to Atlanta, let me suggest you go the old way. It’s a lot quieter and easier.  Admittedly it takes a little patience when you drive through the small Atlanta suburbs like Fayetteville and College Park because it seems like there are a hundred traffic lights to slow you down, but the peaceful drive that you get the rest of the way is worth it.

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!