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Posted: 10:16 a.m. Saturday, March 22, 2014

This week in Atlanta traffic: week of March 16th-22nd 

By Doug Turnbull

All in all, this past week was fairly routine on Atlanta’s roads. There was a steady diet of crashes, construction, and soul-killing gridlock. As spring is trying to spring, it serves as a reminder that the summer swoon is only a couple of months away, which should offer a bit of relief on the roads.

Cobb Pkwy. Gridlock Alert - A bizarre crash caused a big mess on Hwy. 41/Cobb Pkwy. Thursday afternoon. An elderly man lost control of his vehicle on the Hwy. 41/nb ramp to Hwy. 5, slid through grass and became airborne, landed on top of another vehicle, then both slid across Hwy. 41/sb and into another ditch. The crash injured four (one critically) and jammed Hwy. 41 back several miles to the South 120 Loop. I-75 was actually moving better than Hwy. 41 that day - which is saying something. When we arrived on the scene in the WSB Skycopter, police blocked Hwy. 41 in both directions. They soon opened one lane each way, but the damage was done.

The weekend closure that almost became a weekday headache, then didn’t - DOT planned to close the I-85/nb/sb HOV lanes roughly between Clairmont Rd. and GA-400 through the weekend and Monday until 5 a.m. Tuesday. This would have caused big delays both Monday morning and afternoon and potentially affected parts of I-75/85 and I-75, but the crisis has been averted...for now. Likely rain Sunday is postponing the Monday part of this closure, which is in place to get the signs ready for the I-85/GA-400 interchange that will open soon. But whenever the DOT does do this in the next few weeks, be ready and don’t plan on taking that corridor. If we all plan properly like we did when the DOT had to do emergency repairs on I-85 in DeKalb last October, then we can minimize the impact this closure will have.

Traffic is still feeling the effects of the winter storms - The extra treatment the DOT paid to the roads in the January and February winter storms has caused potholes in many areas. So the DOT has to patch them up and does so quickly - but the repairs still cause jams. Crews paced traffic on I-75 in both directions between I-285 and Hwy. 54 in Clayton County on Tuesday to do this and then had a rolling pothole road block on I-285/sb (Outer Loop) between I-75 and S. Cobb Dr. during the midday hours Thursday. The latter especially caused big delays. Fortunately, these jams weren’t felt at high impact traffic hours, but nonetheless, some people are still indirectly inconvenienced by Mother Nature’s mid-Winter fury.

Experts say GA-400 traffic increased, but we could have told you that - GA-400 traffic in Buckhead has been noticeably worse since the Toll Plaza stopped collecting money late last year. We predicted this and have noted the increased delays since this occurred. Now there is raw data to back this up, though the data itself seems conservative. The report says that traffic is two to seven percent worse, depending on the area on GA-400 being measured. One thing the article in the link noted is that people seem to not care that much, but I disagree. The people we talk to everyday in the WSB 24-Hour Traffic Center seem very much aggravated by the delays, which used to start at Glenridge in the afternoons and now often begin at Lenox Rd. As the Plaza teardown process progresses, expect more delays in the area.

Other tidbits - Did you notice how bad traffic was Friday afternoon? I-75 was awful on both sides of town, mainly because we are in college spring break season, which is followed closely by K-12 spring breaks. Brace yourself for ugly drives home on Friday’s, especially on I-75 on the north and south sides, as people head to, from, and through town. - A tractor trailer got stuck on the railroad tracks in downtown Acworth early  Wednesday and a train hit it. These trucks are prohibited from crossing the tracks in the city, just for this reason. The train dragged the truck about a half mile down the tracks. And then later in the week another truck got stuck on the tracks. Go figure.


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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