Day one of using the emergency lane on GA 400 southbound, and how did it work for you?
"Not too good," one commuter told News/Talk WSB. "You would think that the Georgia DOT could have waited possibly a week later to implement these changes. Fulton County schools are actually finished for the summer this Friday and next week would have been a great testing period to start this. It has taken me over 20 minutes just to get from Mansell to the river on southbound 400."
Jill Goldberg of the Georgia Department of Transportation admitted a little more educating of drivers needs to be done. "We probably need to do a little bit more educating on merging out of the lane at the Northridge exit," Goldberg told Scott Slade on Atlanta's Morning News. "You'll need to merge out and then you can merge back into the shoulder lane after the traffic entering Northridge joins the main line. So we probably need to do a little bit more education there, but I think that the message from last week of being patient; that still applies. It's very relevant. Just be patient while people get used to the way you can use the shoulder."
According to the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center, the slowing effects of the changes were actually felt north of Holcomb Bridge. Traffic normally slows down at Old Milton, but today the slow-down started at Windward Parkway. According to one commuter, "I think it's a good idea, but I think they need to do it further north because it's the same problem on the three exits before Holcomb Bridge. In theory it's a good idea but they need to expand it longer."
Additionally, some commuters felt the blue lights from Sandy Spring Police added to the slow-down as well as the presence of media outlets.
"I was expecting it to be a lot better; maybe saving me 10 minutes with the extra lane, but the merging was still kind of confusing," another commuter told WSB Radio. "I don't think a lot of people knew what was going on, and additionally the cops came out, and every time you see blue lights it kind of slows people down. Additionally with the media coverage I think people were kind of rubber-necking to see what was going on."
Goldberg acknowledged the slow-down because of the blue lights, but thinks the police did a great job in helping. "Certainly the blue lights might have a little bit to do with them slowing down, but we total commend Sandy Spring Police for getting out here to help avoid collisions on the shoulder, their response was excellent in getting out here as some drivers weren't sure what to do. There was some near misses, and Sandy Springs helped with that. So we appreciated it."
As you might imagine, the new lanes and the added slow-down made some angry. "I'm telling you, it's another harebrained idea by the Georgia DOT because they can't figure out the main issue. Monday's are bad enough on 400 South without the DOT trying to figure things out. I'm in the soup right now. I come from Forsyth every morning for the lasts eight years and I am currently stuck on 400 Southbound at Old Milton. I have never seen the DOT electronic sign there at Windward saying 41 to 43 minutes in the years it has been working. Minds you, this is the same government agency that decided to widen 400 north up until Forsyth County."
Goldberg says the DOT will evaluate day one. "We have already scheduled a meeting for this afternoon to talk about what we can do in the short-term to try to educate people and get more notice out here so they know what to do. It actually seems to be working fairly well especially when you do consider it's the very first morning of it; drivers seem to be doing very well."
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