Gridlock Guy: Answers on interchanges, turn-lane-texters, and wiper-lights

We had the chance to answer some of your traffic questions on Halloween, which only opened the gates for more. As we all gear up for 2022 and bask in the euphoria of Christmas gifts, here are some more answers and insights.

Questions have, as always, been edited for clarity and length.

The southbound Grady curve has been a problem forever it seems. The issue is people getting on I-75/85, while others are getting over for I-20. Once I get past that spot, the traffic clears up. During the Olympics, the on-ramp from right there beside Grady was closed for security and guess what, there was no southbound slowdown. If the city/state wanted to help traffic, they would find a new way for folks to get on I-75/85 and I-20 that doesn’t interact so much.

-Mike B.

The worst parts of most Metro Atlanta interstates are where they meet other ones. I-285/eastbound in DeKalb is jammed in the right lanes on that slow transition to I-85/northbound.I-75/southbound interacts horribly with I-285 in Cobb. I-75 and I-285 go together like spaghetti and tuna fish in Clayton. I-20 and I-285 are bad mates on both sides of town. Oh...and did I mention GA-400 and I-285 (which is getting rebuilt)...and I-20 how it gets jammed ramping to the slow I-75/85 ramps in drive times?

Yeah...all of them stink. But there is something just insidious and somehow even more annoying about I-75/85/southbound’s ramps to I-20.

DOT added pavement shields a few years ago in an inexpensive attempt to get traffic to commit early to those ramps and to free up the left lanes. But that has done very little, if anything, to mitigate the problem.

I am not sure what a redesign would look like. A bunch of traffic just wants to get in the same place. And unlike the GA-400/I-285 interchange, which is being rebuilt with a bunch of CD ramps that will force people to commit to exits earlier, I don’t think there is the real estate to do that in Downtown Atlanta.

GDOT told me that they are always looking at making improvements, but they do not have any imminent solution in that spot.

I live up In Peachtree Corners. But before that time, I was ITP and even then asked myself the same question: When will GDOT recognize the single-lane PIB exit heading north off I-285 is inefficient and flat out dangerous given aggressive drivers behavior?

Are there any plans to address this before I kick the bucket?! Lol.

-Mike D.

GDOT actually does have plans in this busy Doraville juncture and they are attached to much larger ones.

The state will begin work in Q2 of 2022, combining the I-285/westbound (Outer Loop) ramps to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard (Exit 31). They are separate now. They also are adjusting the angle of the ramp to PIB/northbound. All of this is in an effort to cause less jams on I-285 there.

I would suggest Braves and Cobb County might want to meet with UGA and Athens Clarke County. Six times each year they manage over 90,000 plus in attendance at Sanford Stadium/Dooley Field. I won’t say there haven’t been a few games over the years when we’ve been gridlocked for a short time but not many. And in Athens, you have the same atmosphere [as The Battery Atlanta] with bars and restaurants spread across Downtown Athens right next to campus as well as huge areas with tailgaters. There are thousands in town on gameday who don’t have a ticket to the game.

-Brenda K.

Atlanta Braves officials never responded to my queries about their role in the jammed traffic leaving the big 2021 MLB playoff games. But Brenda makes a great point: how does Athens do this seemingly better?

One reason could be because there are a lot more regular attendees to Sanford Stadium than there were to the Truist Park World Series games. Familiar drivers decrease delays. Or maybe more people hang around after games in Athens than hang around The Battery. But there likely are some lessons that officials in Athens-Clarke County and with the Georgia Bulldogs could teach Cobb County and the Braves.

There was mention of cars automatically turning on lights when you turn on the wipers. My 2004 Chrysler Pacifica has a setting which performs this function and it turns on both headlights and taillights. I know there may not be similar settings in all cars but if a 2004 had it, it would pay to check your owner’s manual for a similar setting.

-Ken B.

After reading the recent Halloween Q&A column, Ken and other readers also helpfully chimed in similarly. Others noted that their various 2018 SUVs have headlight-activation tied in with the use of their windshield wipers. I’m either envious or just ignorant at the intelligence of my own cars. Thankfully, the auto industry beat this great

Every week, I see drivers pulled over in center turn lanes or side turn lanes looking at their phones. Occasionally, they will have hazards on (even though they aren’t in distress), but usually they are just sitting there, in their car, using their cell phone. Is this legal? We have the hands-free law in Georgia, but I don’t think it was intended for people to use turn lanes as phone lanes! In my mind, I see this as a hazard as I think they could easily be hit or just cause problems for people who need to use those lanes to, well, TURN. I have seen cars pulled over in front of a parking lot, sitting in the turn lane for said parking lot. It just seems unsafe and was wondering if you knew how the law was interpreted regarding this.

-Becky C.

Great observation, Becky, and you are absolutely right. The 2018 Hands-Free Georgia Act essentially bans most drivers from holding cell phones at all. The scope of that ban extends to any car that is in a travel lane, stopped or moving, hazard lights or not.

Drivers that are stalled or are in a wreck and cannot move out of lanes, of course, can use their phones to dispatch help. But pulling into an active turn lane of any kind and then illegally illuminating the flashers is not a legal remedy for phone-use. Drivers that need to hold their phones should pull to a shoulder or onto an exit and into a parking lot.

Imagine if every single person that wanted to put their phone in their hand pulled into turn lanes. Stopped cars would clog the lanes and moving cars wouldn’t be able to use them.

Note that most new cars have infotainment systems to make phone-use hands-free and Bluetooth adapters exist to modernize cars without the dash-screens. I use both and they work well.

Thanks for the great questions and thoughts and here is to a safer and better 2022 on the roads!

Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also hosts a traffic podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on Contact him at





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