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Aerial view of traffic in Atlanta at rush hour.

Source: James Leynse / Getty

Atlanta traffic is so bad because you moved here.

I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life (aside from my brief stint living in New Orleans for college), and growing up in the 80’s in my fair city was never a task. Back then, every day in Atlanta was amazingly steady yet relaxingly slow-paced, and much of that was due to a Pre-Olympics population that didn’t cause chaos and hours of backed up traffic.

Fast forward to 2018, Atlanta has launched itself over time into a post-Olympics renaissance, replete with nuanced artistic neighborhoods, and a daily laundry list of film and TV shoots; however, amid our newly found fast-paced facade, an ugly shadow of traffic has casted itself over the “City in the Forest.” According to the INRIX Global Traffic Scorecard, which is the largest comparative study of its kind, Atlanta ranks number 8 on an international list of cities with horrible traffic, with Los Angeles, NYC, and San Francisco as the only US cities making it higher on the list (Los Angeles is number one). So do we blame the post-Olympic renaissance for Atlanta having such a harsh traffic ranking, or perhaps it’s Atlanta’s infrastructure and poor planning that has gotten us in the current standstill situation?

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Metro Atlanta has grown to a populous of approximately 5.7 million people, and this new found increase has found itself to be a huge success for local businesses and our city’s tourist and visitors’ bureau. Consequently, with a constantly growing population, in a city as sprawled out as ours, everyone in the city limits has to own a vehicle of their own, and this is where the headache of traffic starts. Atlanta’s public transit system could take Atlantans where they need to go all over the city, if they could just stop trippin’ and expand their train lines to extend into outer lying counties, but unfortunately those counties are still blocking expansion to prevent “negative elements” from coming to their areas, even though people will come and go wherever they wish, regardless of train lines (sips tea). One of these days, the transit system will expand, however that time won’t happen in our near future, so the problem of traffic is still in our forefront.

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Can we blame road expansions for our traffic woes? Since everyone is driving to their destination, our problems should be easily solved by expanding lanes on highways and roads around the metro area. However, Georgia’s various class, racial, and regional divisions seem to have made that very challenging for the Atlanta area, as methodologies reveal that Georgia is one of the bottom five states in terms of highway spending per capita. This lack of spending is largely due to voters disagreeing on key plans that could repair and better our roads, such as TSPLOST, where these plans go to referendum, and they are voted down by suburban communities that disapprove of expansions around their area. With the constant divide between in-towners and suburbanites, there is a possibility that a solution will never come to pass.

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by: Jarrett Milton