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Posted: 10:43 a.m. Thursday, July 24, 2014

TrafFAQ: Experts take your traffic questions again on WSB 

By Doug Turnbull

Since the July 11th WSB Traffic Show and the DOT's initial response to listeners' road observations, they have followed up again with more info on how they hope to fix them. We've added the updated responses after the initial ones and they are italicized. 

Last month the members of the WSB Traffic Team (Mark McKay, Mark Arum, Ashley Frasca, NewsChopper 2’s Jason Durden, and myself), Georgia State Patrol Colonel Mark McDonough, and Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden took WSB listeners’ questions about various traffic problems around town. Commissioner Golden took down each complaint or question thoughtfully, answered the best that he could on air, and then took them back to research and answer with both his Deputy Commissioner Todd Long and DOT Chief Engineer Russell McMurry. It’s impressive - have a look. This is how much they care about trying to get things done or at the very least, give peace of mind to people that are frustrated with different problems. We took calls from listeners and some tweeted to us. Those people we didn’t answer on air, we tried to online already. These are Commissioner Golden’s actual notes and then the combined answers of Golden, Long, and McMurry:

 

“1.      I-75 Exit 267 A and B, female caller complained that there are issues with SR 5 Conn merging I-75 south. [GDOT will have our traffic engineers examine accident data and field conditions] [GDOT traffic engineers reviewed the complaint about driver confusion on a one lane entrance ramp on a two lane ramp meter.  A maintenance work request has been submitted to clarify the merge after the ramp meter.]

2.      SR 92 Widening, male caller claimed that local Cobb SPLOST has had this project several times and nothing has been done. – Commissioner explained ARC planning process and that we would contact Cobb DOT [GDOT is working closely with the City of Acworth in the development of this widening project. We are currently in the concept and environmental document phase of the project.  We expect to have the environmental document complete in the next 6-9 months.   The schedule calls for the R/W phase to begin next summer provide adequate funding is available.] 

3.      Winder Signal Timing – male caller claimed that lights are not timed correctly.[The concrete rehabilitation project is now complete on SR 11 in downtown Winder.  Now that final lane configuration is open, GDOT District staff plans to review and implement new signal timing plans as soon as possible.  Please note that this project has won several awards for innovative design.] [The concrete rehabilitation project is now complete on SR 11 in downtown Winder. District staff are working on timing plans and will have implemented by end of August.]

4.      School Zone flashers – female called asked who turns off school zone signs when school is not in session.  No specific location provided.[Each of our District offices work with local schools to determine proper school closure dates so that the preset timers on the school flashers will be set appropriately]

5.      I-75 south Exit 216 (SR 155) – male caller complained about signal timing on SR 155 in McDonough.  He also implied that a traffic signal was not working.  Commissioner suggested they call 511 for signal outage. [This section of roadway is heavily congested and at full capacity during several hours of the day.   We have not had any complaints about signal malfunctions in that area in the past few weeks.  We are in the process of implementing a “traffic responsive” signal system in that area and should provide some relief.  However, this is not expected to completely alleviate the congestion along this corridor.]

6.      I-285 at Riverside Drive – Male caller questioned how improvements will work.  Commissioner explained the proposed roundabout project.  [GDOT staff is working closely with the City of Sandy Springs on the proposed roundabouts at the off-ramps.  The roundabout design will help alleviate the current back-up on the ramps which occurs daily.  The City is also considering turn lanes in lieu of the roundabouts.]

7.      Southbound Peachtree Road at W. Peachtree/Buford Hwy Connection  – The southbound signal on Peachtree Road holds for a long even when no traffic is coming from W. Peachtree NB.[GDOT will notify the City of Atlanta to perform a signal timing evaluation.] [Our signal timing consultant went to investigate the issue at Peachtree St at West Peachtree St. on 8.14.14.  The vehicle detection on W Peachtree is not functioning at the intersection.  Currently the controller is giving a constant call and taking time away from Peachtree St when no cars are present on West Peachtree Street. It is on our list to repair soon.]

8.      RPM replacement schedule since snow storm – Commissioner explained importance but we are short on money.  [GDOT is preparing to purchase and replace the raised pavement markers (RPMs) that were removed by snow plows.] 

9.      I-285/I-20 on west side – Commissioner explained that it is long term in the ARC plan. [The project is much needed and was included in the proposed transportation sales tax back in 2012.  Without additional funding, this project will remain in long range.  We are looking at a smaller operation project for eastbound I-20 as it approaches I-285 exit.  This might be implemented in next year.]

10.   I-20 joint replacements on west side of Atlanta – Commissioner explained those improvements are ongoing.[The Contractor’s proposed start date is Sept 1, 2014.]

11.   Potholes in general (especially I-20 east and US 78 at Mountain Industrial Blvd) – needs to be fixed.[Portions of I-20 in Rockdale and Newton Counties are going to be resurfaced in the near future.  A contractor is already on-board.  We are making repairs to potholes along US 78 next week.]

12.   SR 140 Widening in north Fulton north of Roswell – Commissioner explained about ARC is lead on road planning in Atlanta. [This section of roadway was included on the proposed transportation Sales tax list in 2012 list but nothing has been done in this corridor lately except for a bridge project at Little River at the Cherokee/Fulton line]

13.   SR 141 @ Longlake subdivision in Cumming just north of Sharon Road –  Caller would like a traffic signal evaluation completed. [GDOT’s District Traffic office are scheduled to perform a traffic signal warrant analysis once school is back in session and traffic patterns have settled.  This study will be completed sometime in the fall.]

14.   I-285 EB at Glenridge Exit – male caller indicated that drivers cannot access the Glenridge exit due to back up from exiting traffic for SR 400. Caller suggest moving the advance sign Glenridge exit.[GDOT Traffic engineers will investigate.] [The Department is working on improvements to the I-285 at GA 400 interchange.  Exiting on to Glenridge will be much easier once the work on GA 400 is done].

 

Colonel McDonough got less of a workload than Commissioner Golden, but did take a few questions and gave great answers.  He clarified the “Slow Poke Law”, entertained a caller’s idea of exploring increased texting fines for motorists (as truckers have an over $2000 fine for phone use, but regular drivers’ are much less), and even said (based on listener feedback) he would encourage legislators to look at a law keeping truckers in the center lanes on I-285.

Both McDonough and Golden were tight with our buddy, the departed Captain Herb Emory. Golden spoke of how Captain Herb kept the DOT in check and loved to give input on their decision-making. The DOT will use Captain Herb’s phrase (taken from his love of auto racing) “Slow down to go faster” to promote its Variable Speed Limit implementation on I-285 this fall. McDonough mentioned Captain Herb’s dedication to the Move Over Law and his being an honorary Georgia State Patrol officer. Captain Herb wore that badge proudly.

Finally, we also had on several guests that promoted safe driving. WSB #750 Traffic Trooper Herschel Evans, a multi-time winner of the Georgia Truck Driving Championships and champion of safe driving in and near tractor trailers, checked in to share some safety tips with motorists. The most interesting advice was this note about passing a truck: do not complete the pass until you have both of the big rig’s headlights in your rearview. Woodrow Gaines from the organization Teen Vehicle Operations Course talked about his teen driving course, which is tailored to be a one day “non-crash” course of what police officers get in their training. It is affordable and very effective - you should look into it for your teen. And Bob Cucchi from TEAM Georgia joined us to talk about Captain Herb’s longtime involvement with the organization and announced a designated driver booth in his honor for the Georgia Dome. Cucchi also explained the organization’s mission (vehicle and boat safety and sober driving) and how people can volunteer to be designated drivers for their booths at event venues around town.

To hear the entire show, including the skinny on I-75 HOT lane construction, the proposed GA-400/I-285 interchange, and more, listen here: Hour 1Hour 2. We hope to do another one soon.

 

Now, WSB listenership, you can help us. The DOT is trying to figure out how to fund transportation long term. People hate raising taxes, but the gas tax only nets the DOT something like $.16 a gallon and cars now are more efficient than ever. With the project list growing and traffic getting worse, what should the DOT, the Atlanta Regional Commission (who decides what projects should be done), and Georgia legislators do? Email the WSB Traffic Team with your ideas: wsbtraffictips@gmail.com , comment on this post, or even tweet us with the hashtag #AskWSB. We will pass on your ideas to the DOT.

In our next post, we’ll talk about a crazy new idea about raising money for transportation: paving with solar panels. It’s nuts - but what if? We’ll explore it.  

Doug Turnbull

About Doug Turnbull

Doug has been an Atlanta traffic reporter and producer as part of WSB's award-winning team since 2004 and has been covering NASCAR the news team and since then, as well.

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Remembering Captain Herb

Captain Herb Emory 1953-2014

News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB remembers longtime  traffic reporter Captain Herb Emory in this special section.