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Traffic Team fundraisers to benefit Toys for Tots Captain Herb loved so much. He loved his family, his job, his colleagues and his community. One of the many charities he helped was metro Atlanta Toys for Tots. To honor his legacy, the WSB Traffic Team still hosts his annual toy drive at Fred’s BBQ House, and it’s quite a show! Bring the family, and plan to join them and the Douglas County community this holiday season on Saturday, December 8th in Lithia Springs. Our next Toys for Tots event is a golf tournament on Friday, November 9th. It will be held at Bear’s Best Atlanta in Suwanee. To register, click here. A huge ‘thank you’ and congratulations to our Traffic Trooper Mike Haney “Disc Golf Driver” and to Steve Winslow for putting together another successful disc golf tournament, held on September 29th. The group raised more than $6,000 for metro-Atlanta Toys for Tots and, not to mention, a truckload of toys that were also donated! To see some pictures from that day, view the Facebook album here. Call our traffic center with traffic incident 24/7/365 at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Atlanta traffic bears an inevitability and conjures a resignation. Very few events curb it. Finished road projects may beat it back, but population growth beckons the gridlock again. Rain causes it. Sun causes it. The parallax of stop and go traffic allows that it will always stop again - somewhere or sometime. That “stop” doesn’t need much of an invitation to show up at the banquet and bring its friends. » RELATED: Heavy congestion continues in metro Atlanta; temps hover in low 70s With so many road projects constantly in place to eventually improve Atlanta’s road system, the delays they cause are mandatory. But the goal for any road or lane closure should be to, at most costs, minimize the impact on the commute. This thinking is why driving on weekends is so miserable: because weekday commutes are seen as sacred. But even this thinking on weekends gets taken to the extreme juxtaposition, as evidenced by the three or four left lanes blocked each way on I-75 in Marietta the last few weekends. The delays from that were terrible. And while more could have been done to alert motorists of the impending doom and news outlets could have underlined it, the delays at least stayed well out of rush hour. This has not been the case during several recent weeknight or midday projects. Crews on I-85/southbound in north Gwinnett had to stay out far into an AM drive last month. The reason is because a tack machine got too far ahead of the rest of the crew and the lane wasn’t dry until morning drive was half-over. The delays were awful. Just this past Tuesday, a striping machine broke. So, lane-paint on I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) between Ashford Dunwoody Road (exit 29) and Riverside Drive (exit 24) stayed wet and crews had to leave the four left lanes closed until into the 6 a.m. hour. Their picking up the closure also went painstakingly slow - it took close to an hour. I flew over this in the WSB Skycopter, as I-285 backed up all the way to I-85, thus jamming I-85/southbound from Gwinnett and Peachtree Industrial/southbound, too. » RELATED: How bad is Atlanta traffic? It depends on how you look at it A lane closure on I-675/southbound at Highway 138 in Stockbridge lasted late into PM drive a couple of weeks ago. That caused a big backup also and the explanation there was also pavement that did not dry. These delayed re-openings all had explanations: equipment or paving failures. Just bad luck or human error caused the lane closures to remain in place past the deadlines. But then there are other closures that are perplexing. For example, paving crews in Lawrenceville recently have stayed out through PM drive on Highway 20/northbound north of Highway 316. This isn’t in the sticks, this is in a high traffic-density area. And they just continued this non-emergency work, rush hour be damned. Decisions like that are unacceptable. The Departments of Transportation on the state level and then down to the county levels need to enforce with iron might the sanctity of open roads during rush hours. And in doing so, they need to consider widening the windows of when drive times take place. No longer is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. a dead zone. Rush hours normally last longer and start earlier. And 5 a.m. needs to be the hard quitting time for overnight crews, because jams are often large when closures stay in place until or past 6 a.m. Yes, this never ending list of road projects leaves a damage trail of delays in the off hours also. And yes, GDOT could use more tact when they close lanes on weekends and how many they allow blocked at once. But at the very least, Atlanta traffic needs its rush hours are clear as possible. Traffic is bad enough on its own and when accidentals spoil it, without traffic professionals making mistakes and leaving lanes blocked. This continuously growing city cannot afford unnecessary lanes blocked. » RELATED: Photos: Weird things that have snarled Atlanta traffic Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Metro Atlanta has had three cattle truck crashes in the last five months. As you may have gotten wind of (no reference to cow flatulence intended), a truck carrying 89 cattle tipped over on the I-285/eastbound (Inner Loop) ramp to I-75/northbound in Cobb at 3:30 a.m. Monday. 11 cows died in the melee, but many ran loose for hours. That Cobb Cloverleaf ramp stay closed until the afternoon, creating massive delays on I-285/northbound up from I-20 through AM drive. That sent extra traffic onto I-75/85/northbound, which then got terrible with a major wreck at 10th Street. Scared out of their bovine minds, cows ran loose on I-75 and I-285 and on side streets in the area. At least 10 cars hit them and got damage. One on the run seemed to object to Channel 2 Action News’ Steve Gehlbach’s phone video of it. Another charged at first responders, who were trying to guide it into a truck next to I-75. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: What in the world went wrong on Peachtree this summer? At least two cows evaded authorities until Monday evening, meaning authorities had to allocate resources for close to 18 hours for this mess. Triple Team Traffic’s Alex Williams, Jill Nelson and I watched on the WSB Jam Cam on I-285/eastbound over the Chattahoochee River bridge as police corralled one against the right hand wall around 4 p.m. But it somehow got loose and hopped the wall, running down the hill and through the woods. Newschopper 2’s Jason Durden eventually spotted it from above taking a stroll in the Chattahoochee River.  After all this, my traffic cohort Ashley Frasca posed a great question to me: who has to pony up (pun intended) in major tie-ups like this? Do the offending drivers also have to pay for the giant time inconveniences they create? “In the case of an ‘at fault’ crash, trucking companies and large truck drivers are responsible for the damages they cause, just like other motorists operating passenger cars and light trucks,” a Georgia State Patrol spokesperson told the AJC and WSB. “Usually, these damages are paid by the company or the insurance carrier.” » RELATED: I-75 lane closures this weekend near SunTrust Park This is why investigations for commercial vehicle crashes can last even longer. Not only do big vehicles often create greater damage, but determining fault channels the giant bill in someone’s direction. But this principle also applies to the more common wrecks between passenger vehicles. If one damages the guardrail, the government isn’t supposed to be the party that pays. “If there is physical damage to the infrastructure associated with the crash, we have a third-party contract in place for claims,” GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale explained. This outside company works on behalf of GDOT to collect damages from the offending party’s insurance company. With the numerous wrecks around town, those damage bills add up. Besides the physical cost of either repairing walls or hiring cowboys to wrangle steer (as occurred Monday), there is also the opportunity cost for thousands of motorists inconvenienced by a closure that someone caused. Don’t wait for a check on that. “We do not recall any situations where anyone has been paid for any ‘inconvenience time’ suffered because of a crash,” GSP said. And Dale echoed that same sentiment. Most Atlantans would have a small fortune if this was true and enforced. At the very least, we can rest assured that those found at fault in wrecks have to pay for the carnage caused and extra manpower needed to clean up messes. But take note that this fault can fall on a motorist that cuts off a tractor trailer or slams into the back of a HERO unit. With so many big trucks hauling freight through our metro area, we need to be extra cautious and give a wide berth around them. We knew the gridlock consequences and now we know that our insurance premiums can feel the consequences also. As of press time, we do not know whom Cobb Police faulted with Monday’s “Great Cow Escape” tumble. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: What caused string of crashes on I-20? Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • I had an entirely different topic prepared for Gridlock Guy this week, but my inbox had different ideas. Since last weekend’s immense construction delays on I-75, multiple AJC readers and WSB listeners have reached out about the direction that the new Northwest Metro Express reversible toll lanes run on the weekends. There is quite a bit of confusion, as the rules for weekend lane reversals are completely different. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: New I-75 Peach Pass lanes making impact, so far The normal ebb and flow of the brand new, raised toll lanes is for them to run in the rush hour direction on weekdays. So they run southbound on I-575 and I-75 during morning commutes and northbound in the afternoons. GDOT HERO units and law enforcement close the lanes at approximately 11:30 a.m. Monday thru Friday to properly flush the lanes of any traffic, debris, and stalls. Then they open the gates in the northbound direction at 1 p.m., ahead of the afternoon commute.  Crews then close the express lanes on weeknights around 11 p.m. and re-open them at 12:30 a.m., ahead of the next weekday’s AM drive. This same process is in play for the South Metro Express Lanes on I-75 in Henry County, except in the reverse directions, of course. And the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) needs a 30 minute stagger between when the two different lane systems reverse, so the Henry County lanes begin their process before Cobb and Cherokee. But what happens Saturday and Sunday has left motorists scratching their heads.  As Cobb and Cherokee commuters have happened upon the I-75 and I-575 toll lane system these last three weeks, they have expected the lanes to operate in the same directions during the weekend as they have during the week. Those freeways were in decent shape the first two cost-free weekends after the lanes’ opening, so the need to use them didn’t exist. But I-75 in Marietta was a disaster the past weekends, with three or four lanes blocked in each direction near the South and North 120 Loop exits both Saturday and Sunday. People actually wanted to use the lanes then.  But multiple people leaving Downtown Atlanta and driving home to the northwestern suburbs on the afternoons of September 22nd and 23rd were shocked to find the Peach Pass lanes still pointed in the southbound direction. This is because SRTA and GDOT have had a general rule of thumb of putting the lanes in direction needed for Monday’s morning drive very early in the weekend. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Officials explain the new Peach Pass lanes on I-75 and I-575 But after checking traffic flow data (the delays), SRTA is amending when the lanes change on both sides of town. Starting with this past Friday’s PM drive at 10:30 p.m., crews in Cobb and Cherokee each weekend will close the lanes and reverse them from northbound to southbound by 1 a.m. The lanes will then stay southbound until 11:30 a.m. Sunday, reverse to northbound by 1:30 p.m., then stay that way until 11 p.m. Then crews will reverse the lanes again back to southbound by 1 a.m. and well enough in time for Monday morning drive.  On the south side, the reversible express lanes stay southbound direction from after Friday PM drive until about 11 a.m. Saturday. Then the lanes re-open northbound at 1 p.m. and stay pointed that way until 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The lanes will then close for two hours and run southbound until 11 p.m. Sunday, before closing again and reversing to the northbound direction for Monday’s commute. Rules change during holiday travel weekends, though this new schedule benefits those travel patterns more than before.  In general, the lanes do not follow the weekday rush hour schedule on the weekends, because there isn’t a scheduled weekend rush hour.  Since construction crews blocked up both directions of I-75 September 22nd and 23rd, this didn’t matter. One side was going to have the lanes and one was not. Both needed them. But what if there is construction on only one side of I-75 or I-575? Will GDOT and SRTA change those procedures to cater to projects?  In talking to officials, they haven’t ruled out the idea of pre-planning express lanes reversal times. But this takes a lot of coordination. Construction crews actually have to close the lanes when and where they say they are going to do these projects. Both GDOT and SRTA have to work together to make these schedule changes hours, if not days before the scheduled event. As we have learned, reversing the lanes takes at least an hour and a half. This coordination effort is precisely the reason that they cannot just up and reverse the toll lanes because of something more ephemeral, like a big crash.  If you’re planning traveling on the north or south sides of town on I-75 and I-575, plan ahead. Check the schedules for the Northwest Metro Express Lanes or the South Metro Express Lanes to know if you will even be able to use your Peach Pass. Besides reading the overhead digital signs, one can check the pricing and direction of the lanes real time on PeachPass.com. Follow the tabs “Peach Pass,” “Pricing,” and “Live Toll Rates” in that order. This feature isn’t available in the mobile app.  Hopefully officials can plan more flexibility in these lanes around special events and major road projects in the future.  » RELATED: Here's what happens if you use the Peach Pass lane illegally  Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.
  • Have you ever had one of those days? That’s rhetorical, because everyone has. Nothing seems to go right and the problems happen in succession. Then those trials cause more issues. Before you know it, you’re saddled with an inconceivable and seemingly insurmountable entanglement of logistical (and probably emotional) baggage. Come sit on your therapist’s couch next to I-85 in Gwinnett County … or, better, a motorist stuck on it this week. » RELATED: Driver arrested in crash that killed passenger on I-85 North in Gwinnett Tuesday morning saw I-85/northbound near Hamilton Mill (exit 120) practically shut down by a crash involving two big rigs. My Triple Team Traffic cohort Smilin’ Mark McKay saw the jam from the WSB Skycopter. “Debris from the crash was strewn all over the roadway with only the right shoulder getting by during the most of the clean up operation that extended into the heart of morning drive.” And the backup wasn’t just on I-85. “Surface streets north of the Mall of Georgia turned into a mess.” My Skycopter duty Tuesday afternoon involved far too much I-85 coverage. There were two different wrecks before and after Hamilton Mill (yes, the same spot as the morning drive’s debacle) that made the already-rough drive from Duluth even worse. Then on the way back from those two crashes, we found trouble blocking lanes I-85/northbound at Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road (exit 111), Steve Reynolds Boulevard (exit 103), and Shallowford Road (exit 93) in DeKalb. Buford Highway did not serve its proper duty as an alternate, because a gas leak blocked its northbound lanes at Holcomb Bridge Road from roughly 3 to 5 p.m. McKay also presided over a putrid Wednesday AM commute. The ongoing overnight paving work on I-85 in north Gwinnett lasted far too long into morning drive on the southbound side, causing the WSB Traffic Team to issue a GRIDLOCK ALERT on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App. GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale explained the cause. “There’s something called a tack machine that got ahead of the paving crew and went too far.” This meant the pavement wasn’t dry by the time AM drive got underway — and they will have to pony up some fines. “The contractor absolutely admits that they were at fault and will have to pay liquidated damages for the time they stayed in the road past their contracted work hours.” McKay traced those backups all the way to Highway 211 (exit 126) and Ashley Frasca in our Traffic Center spoke to a caller stuck over an hour and a half in the jam. As traffic channeled off of I-85, it moved to I-985/southbound as an alternate. Then that went to the hounds when a crash took out lanes for a while below Highway 20 (exit 4). But that wasn’t all. “We came upon a violent crash on I-85/northbound north of Pleasant Hill Road just after 6:30 a.m.,” McKay said. It left only an H.O.T. lane open for a couple of hours. “Based on the rapid and overwhelming response by Gwinnett Fire & Rescue, I knew it was bad. As firefighters and paramedics frantically worked on the back seat passenger down below, we watched from the WSB Skycopter as a first responder placed a white sheet over the damaged vehicle, signifying a fatality.” The investigation lasted into the 9 a.m. hour and jammed the ride back to Jimmy Carter Boulevard (exit 99). McKay said these bad crashes are a reminder to always be alert behind the wheel, especially on those dark, drowsy morning commutes. “It’s always sobering seeing such an accident scene and a reminder that life is precious and the responsibility of driving a motor vehicle of any type should be taken seriously.” Bad traffic is not a new story on the Atlanta roads, but seeing so many outlier, unusual problems in the same place is both serendipitous and unsettling. Sometimes this stuff just happens and sometimes recurring conditions cause the problems. Either way, I-85 commuters, this wasn’t your week. Drive carefully and better luck next time. » RELATED: Buford Highway mostly re-opened in Gwinnett after water main leak
  • Since the September 8th opening of the I-75 and I-575 Northwest Metro Express Lanes, drivers have seemingly taken to them like ducks to water. The mid-Saturday debut of the nearly 30-mile stretch of toll lanes has run toll-free. But only drivers that already have a valid Peach Pass, Florida SunPass, or North Carolina Quick Pass are allowed in the brand new lanes. That stipulation hasn’t kept thousands from trying out the finished product of Georgia’s largest infrastructure ever. That means thousands that aren’t using the main through lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, improving those rides. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: Officials explain the new Peach Pass lanes on I-75 and I-575 “Preliminary review of the data for the lanes indicates an estimated 5,300 trips on opening day Saturday and nearly 6,000 trips on Sunday,” State Road and Tollway Authority’s (SRTA) Ericka Davis shared. And the numbers increased for the first rush hour test of the express lanes. “For Monday, the preliminary review indicates an estimate of 6,700 trips southbound and 7,500 during the afternoon northbound commute.” Those numbers do not include any Florida or North Carolina toll passes.  Officials at the Wednesday ribbon-cutting for the four-year, $800-plus million project said they had recorded as many as 18,000-plus daily trips in the lanes by mid-week. Davis said that SRTA’s numbers are ahead of schedule. “SRTA’s goal for the number of transponders in the Northwest Corridor region was 25,000, starting July 1, 2017. We are happy to report that we met and exceeded that goal with 32,613 transponders so far. Our goal for transponders statewide during that same time frame was 62,000. We exceeded that goal as well with 85,713, so far and counting.” SRTA has had an intensive, multi-platform ad campaign to prime the public for what it needs to know for the lanes. The commercials and the lack of toll for the first two weeks have driven results. From the WSB Skycopter, we saw a steady stream of volume in those lanes both AM and PM drive. The lanes never got below the speed limit and enough vehicles used them that the traffic patterns on I-75 and I-575 have changed. » RELATED: New express lanes may have drivers paying to drive along  Both northwest freeways now get slow later in each rush hour and they slow in different areas. I-75 and I-575 also return to the speed limit earlier. In the mornings, I-75/southbound seems to slow just a tad in the 6 a.m. hour right where the new lane system begins at Hickory Grove Rd., north of Wade Green Rd. This is the only place to actually enter the lanes southbound from I-75 itself. Every other entry point is from a surface street or I-575. Later in the morning commute, the I-75 delays seem to push forward - below Highway 5 down past the Chattahoochee River. And the inverse happens in the afternoon; the delays shift northward and are less intense than before. I-575/southbound is lighter than normal and really only gets slow after 7:30 a.m., when the crowd from Canton and Holly Springs collects between Sixes Road (where the new lanes begin) and Highway 92 in Woodstock. I-575/northbound is also lighter than normal in the evenings. The Monday morning commute had a weird pattern, because some other interstates were lighter than normal and a bad wreck I-575/southbound in Holly Springs also kept people off of I-75. But the other commutes (through the Thursday midday writing deadline) have definitely been a good measure of how the new lanes have added capacity and improved the rush hour in Marietta and Kennesaw. But judging these lanes’ success right now is not proper. If no one was using them, we would say the same thing. Analyzing the Peach Pass lanes while they are toll-free is like predicting an election based only on absentee ballots. First, people may only be using the Northwest Metro Express Lanes because they are free. The plan is have them start charging money on Sunday, September 23rd and not at any kind of discount rate. Will drivers still use them then? On the flip side, some drivers aren’t yet even aware that they are open or how to get a Peach Pass. As time wears on, more people will buy their transponders and start using the lanes. That then could slow the lanes down actually below the speed limit. This hasn’t been a problem on the reversible lanes in Henry County, but it has on the seven-year-old HOT lane system on I-85 in Gwinnett. Until dynamic pricing begins on these new Peach Pass lanes, Atlantans really will not know their true success. But, so far, the returns have been great. » RELATED: Here's what happens if you use the Peach Pass lane illegally  Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on News 95-5 FM and AM-750 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxinc.com.

News

  • After Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston traded touchdown pass after touchdown pass, it came down to a few wacky flips near the goal line. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly pulled off a miracle. But, in the end, the Atlanta Falcons finally got a much-needed victory to bounce their way. Ryan threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak, holding off Tampa Bay 34-29 Sunday in Winston's return as the Bucs' starter. The Falcons (2-4) scored on their first three possessions and held off a wild comeback by Tampa Bay (2-3), avoiding their first 1-5 start since 2007. The Bucs lost their third in a row. 'It was all hands on deck,' Atlanta coach Dan Quinn said. Especially on the final play . Winston and the Bucs drove to the Atlanta 21 but were out of timeouts. With the Falcons dropping nearly everyone toward the end zone, expecting a pass, Winston took the snap and darted straight up the middle of the field. When he was about to be tackled at the 10, he pitched the ball toward receiver Adam Humphries, who was so intent on going for the winning score he couldn't hang on. The ball skipped to Mike Evans, who blindly flung it in the direction of DeSean Jackson along the sideline at the 5. Jackson might've had a chance to dive for the end zone, but he couldn't come up with another bouncing ball. It rolled harmlessly out of bounds to end the game. Jackson ripped off his helmet and kicked the pylon in disgust on his way to the locker room. 'The play is a play you run once,' tight end O.J. Howard said. 'It was a great call. We almost got it.' Winston, who was suspended for the first three games of the season and came off the bench in Week 4, threw for 395 yards and four TDs. His performance, though, was marred by a pair of interceptions, one a deep ball that was picked off at the Atlanta 1 and a deflected pass in the end zone that ricocheted high in the air and was grabbed by Brian Poole to deny a red-zone scoring chance. Ryan's three TD passes gave him 274 in his career, passing Joe Montana for 16th on the career list. 'Obviously it's very special any time your name is brought up with Joe's,' Ryan said. 'But I'm more excited about the win.' He also had a big scramble on third-and-9, powering for a 13-yard gain that set up his final scoring pass. Quinn made a gutsy call with just over a minute remaining, sending on Matt Bryant to attempt a 57-yard field goal with Atlanta clinging to a 31-29 lead. Bryant's kick just cleared the crossbar, extending the Falcons' lead. The 43-yard-old Bryant put everything into the kick and immediately grabbed his right hamstring before hobbling off the field. Quinn's decision forced the Bucs to go for a touchdown. 'I can't say enough about Matt Bryant and the kick he had,' Quinn gushed. 'He's definitely one of the most mentally tough players I've had a chance to coach.' JULIO'S DAY Julio Jones went another game without a touchdown catch. The Falcons didn't mind a bit. Jones had 10 receptions for 143 yards — his third 100-yard game of the season — and constantly drew attention away from his teammates. That allowed Austin Hooper, Mohamed Sanu and Tevin Coleman to haul in scoring passes. Jones has gone 11 straight regular-season games without a TD since a Nov. 26, 2017, victory over Tampa Bay, when he had two scoring catches. BUC-KLING DOWN The beleaguered Tampa Bay defense, which is guided by former Falcons coach Mike Smith, was shredded in the first half for three touchdowns, a last-second field goal and 275 yards. It showed a bit of improvement after the break, actually forcing Atlanta to punt on three straight possessions. But, with the game on the line, the Bucs surrendered a 75-yard drive capped by Ryan's 6-yard TD pass to Coleman and a 36-yard possession that set up Bryant's long field goal. Tampa Bay came into the game allowing 34.75 points per game, more than any team in the league. INJURY REPORT Atlanta's receiving corps took a beating. Calvin Ridley, who was leading the Falcons with six touchdown catches, went out in the first half with an ankle injury and didn't return. Sanu was sidelined in the second half with a hip problem after hauling in a 35-yard touchdown pass. The loss of two receivers forced the Falcons to give more playing time to Justin Hardy, Marvin Hall and Russell Gage. Hardy had three catches and Gage came up with a big catch on Atlanta's touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. The Bucs lost defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who walked slowly off the field in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury. Also, cornerback Ryan Smith was evaluated for a possible concussion. UP NEXT Buccaneers: Return home next Sunday to host the Cleveland Browns (2-3-1). Falcons: Host the struggling New York Giants (1-5) on Monday, Oct. 22, to close out a stretch of five home games in the first seven weeks of the season. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry ___ For more AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NFLfootball and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • A small plane crashed while taking off at the Gwinnett County Airport on Sunday afternoon, officials said. The two occupants of the plane were able to exit safely before the plane caught fire at about 12:40 p.m., according to a statement from the Gwinnett County Department of Fire and Emergency Services. The occupants, an instructor and a student, were not seriously injured, the fire department said. One was evaluated and released by paramedics at the scene, and the other said they were not injured. READ MORE: 1 reported dead in plane crash in Paulding County The Cessna 172 “experienced a nose dive and hard landing” while taking off from Runway 7 at Briscoe Field, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The plane went up in flames, but crews put out the fire shortly after 1 p.m., officials said. The aircraft was deemed a total loss. The crash occurred just a day after another small plane crashed in Paulding County, killing the pilot. In other news:
  • One person in Mississippi is in custody after the Bolivar County sheriff said that a baby was stabbed, WTVA reported. The baby was then placed in an oven at the home and baked, the sheriff told WTVA. >> Read more trending news  The person, whose name and relationship to the baby has not been released, is in the Bolivar County Regional Correctional Facility, according to Sheriff Kelvin Williams. Williams said deputies found the baby, whose age has not been determined, after being called to the home Monday evening, WTVA reported. They are unsure though when the baby died. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the crime lab are investigating.
  • A Massachusetts school employee is under investigation by the Secret Service for allegedly threatening President Donald Trump on social media. >> Watch the news report here The employee, a Fitchburg Public Schools paraprofessional who works with special-needs students, has also been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation. Her husband, a principal at Fitchburg's Longsjo Middle School, spoke only to WFXT about his wife's alleged tweet, which was captured in screen shots and shared multiple times on social media. At first, the tweet caught the attention of the local police force and subsequently of federal agents. 'People have their preferences, but sometimes you should just keep your 2 cents to yourself, you know?' said Roger Valcourt, a parent. The tweet, posted Oct, 10 which read, 'No just kill Trump,' has been generating controversy around town. Parents were shocked to learn what happened, saying both the principal and his wife are star educators. After the tweet was reported to Ashburnham police, the Secret Service launched an investigation, telling WFXT that they are aware of the incident and investigate all threats made against the president. 'I don’t know what was going through her head, I guess, but it’s not a good thing to say you want to kill the president,' said Alex Clemente, a parent. Clemente, a veteran who fought in Iraq, says the tweet went too far. 'Even though you don’t like him, you can’t say that,' Clemente said. >> Read more trending news  The employee's husband told WFXT in an off-camera interview she meant no harm, saying, 'It was lapse in judgment, a mistake. It was a bad choice of words that were taken out of context. My wife is not a malicious person, and has an impeccable work record. She’s embarrassed by this situation.' While Craig Chalifoux spoke to WFXT on the record, his wife isn't being identified because she is not facing any charges. The superintendent told WFXT that the employee has been placed on paid administrative leave, saying, in a statement, this 'is being done to protect her interests as well as the interest of the district [and] it will allow the investigation to conclude and minimize any disruption and distraction and protects her safety and security.
  • A U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle named Hardy detected a roasted pig’s head in checked luggage at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. >> Read more trending news  Hardy, a six-year-old rescue beagle, alerted his handler to a bag belonging to a traveler from Ecuador. Inside was the pig’s head, which weighed nearly 2 pounds. The director of the Port of Atlanta for Customs and Border Protection, Carey Davis, issued a statement saying the seizure demonstrates “the tremendous expertise of our four-legged K-9 partners in protecting the United States.” >> Related: Beagle rescued from abuse now detects contraband at Hartsfield-Jackson The agency seized the pig’s head and destroyed it, saying pork and pork products from other continents are prohibited from entering the United States to prevent the introduction of diseases like classical swine fever, foot and mouth disease and swine vesicular disease. Travelers are supposed to declare fruit, vegetable and food products to Customs and present them for inspection. Hardy, a member of the Customs and Border Protection “Beagle Brigade,” got his job in 2015 after training at the National Detectors Dog Training Center in Newnan, Georgia. It’s not the first time a beagle has intercepted a pig at Hartsfield-Jackson. In 2016, a K9 beagle named Joey detected a whole roasted pig in the baggage of a traveler from Peru.
  • A man in Cleveland County, North Carolina, was seriously hurt after he was shot by his own booby trap. >> Read more trending news  Edwin Smith booby-trapped a back door with a shotgun and posted an abrasive warning sign for intruders. >> Related: Business booming for man who invented booby-trap to detour package thieves He opened the door at about 11:30 a.m. to feed squirrels. The trap was sprung and he was struck in the arm. He is recovering in a hospital.