Between the number of people moving to cities, the population of our world, and the outdated design of roads, traffic has increased in most cities across the world. However, some have it worse than others. Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York City, and Shanghai have global reputations for their traffic, but there are other places that have horrible traffic that isn’t mentioned as much outside of them. Whether it’s Seattle or Atlanta, the locals complain about the traffic, warn visitors, and know how best to navigate it. But the question is, why is traffic in Atlanta so bad?
Design of the City
Atlanta is not a new city. The history of Georgia’s capital dates back to 1836. The state decided to build a railroad to the United States Midwest and chose a location for the line’s terminus, which was engraved into the ground at Zero Mile Post in 1837. Since then, the city has grown, but the initial design remains. Atlanta was not designed for the number of cars, people, and public transportation it has today. Of course, things have changed considerably since then, but Atlanta was never one of the planned cities that became increasingly popular.
With over 6 million people, Atlanta has grown considerably since 1836. The population of this city has steadily grown since 1950. There was no accounting for this growth early on when many of the roads were constructed. The streets have been paved to respond to the growing population. As the population has ballooned over the last 75 years, Atlanta has made changes to their city. However quickly a city changes in response to the growing population, if it isn’t planned, it will always be playing catch up.
Lack of Density
A lot of people think that city density leads to more traffic, but in some cases, like Atlanta, the lack of density leads to more commutes. Atlanta is, generally, a commuter city. People live in the suburbs and come into the city for work. Without being a very dense city, people are traveling across the metropolitan area to get where they need to be every day. When a city is denser, like New York City, for example, a lot more people are walking or taking public transportation. In Atlanta, you have a city of commuters. The traffic is in part due to how many people drive across the city every day.
When it comes to the number of people you have commuting every day, the more people on the streets rushing to work, the more accidents you will have. Automobile accidents are the leading cause of injury deaths in Georgia. Some estimates say that there are 6 accidents per hour in Atlanta. It’s no surprise there are many car accident lawyers in Atlanta. This number of accidents, of course, makes the traffic worse. The cycle continues. Accidents are common in large cities, but they don’t need to be this common. Atlanta is a city that could use a change in how the city approaches roads, traffic, and accidents.
Finally, there are three major highways that converge in the city of Atlanta. There is a 7.5-mile stretch where I-75 and I-85 connect, which is known as the Downtown Connector. It’s infamous for being one of the worst bottlenecks in the country. There are counterintuitive exit directions, various lane changes, and tight weaves around curves that make it a traffic hotspot. There is also a bottleneck known as Spaghetti Junction, which intersects I-85 and I-285. This is a place notorious for trucker delays due to traffic.
Atlanta has become the ninth largest metropolitan city in the United States, and the problems that come with being a large city have followed it. Traffic is one of them. The lack of density and long history of segregation have people traversing the city in their commute. There are millions of people who need to make it through bottlenecks and an older design. Of course, all this makes accidents more common, which slows down traffic even more.
Still, there’s no reason to accept the traffic in Atlanta. As self-driving vehicles become more common, traffic will ease up. But until then, something needs to be done to alleviate traffic and mitigate the number of accidents that are occurring in the Greater Atlanta area.