Puget Sound Transportation Projects
Special Projects - Roads of Atlanta
I met with a friend of mine in the Atlanta area in September, 2008. Traveling from the airport to where I stayed, Alpharetta, I was able to experience the Atlanta freeway system.
From Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport we traveled up I-85 through downtown Atlanta at night. I was amazed to see that the freeway downtown was about 10+ lanes wide, with a project underway to add HOT lanes in the median, another 4+ lanes. Compare this to Seattle where Interstate 5 is 6 lanes or less with a couple collector-distributor lanes and no room for expansion.
We exited I-85 headed to I-285 on the outer loop at Spaghetti Junction, a massive stacked interchange. We finally exited onto Georgia 400 at Sandy Springs headed towards Alpharetta. Again, compare this to the Seattle area where the only bypass is Interstate 405, 6 lanes at its narrowest and heavily congested.
Also interesting was GA-400. Even this far from downtown Atlanta ramp meters and noise walls were used (very similar to what is happening with Interstate 5 South of Federal Way). Also, the end station of the Atlanta light rail system, MARTA, is right off of GA 400, including its own flyover exit ramp.
We also headed out to Six Flags one day. Here I noticed two interesting things not seen in the Seattle area. First, the road had minimum speed signs (40 mph). Second, the area in general was very flat. The Seattle area is very hilly and has a lot of water. Therefore roads are always going up, down or around hills, or over bridges or in tunnels. In Atlanta is was very flat.
Another day we went into downtown Atlanta. Here it was interesting just to see the multiple freeways in the center of town. I don’t believe there is any city in Washington with more than 2 interstates in it, and those are mainly on the outskirts of downtown; for example, while Interstate 5 runs through downtown, Interstate 90 runs around the edge of downtown, as does SR 99 and 520, 2 state highways built to freeway standards.
We also passed by the site of the Bluffton Bus crash. This was on I-75, at Northside Drive. As stated, the exit is not well marked nor is it real clear that you have to stop at the end of the ramp.
NOTE: in a trip in 2010 this exit has been updated with extensive new signage.
In general, the Atlanta freeway system was amazing, allowing more transportation choices than seen in the Seattle area. Coupled with their extensive rail system, it allows tourists and businesspeople enhanced access to the city center and around the city as well.
Images © Ben Brooks