Commentary

Atlanta Needs a Comprehensive Highway and Road Network

In an Op-Ed appearing in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution I suggest that Atlanta build a comprehensive highway and transit network. The recommendations are part of a recently released Reason study titled Practical Strategies for Increasing Mobility in Atlanta.

Like other metro areas, greater Atlanta has an $84 billion transportation plan that neither reduces traffic congestion or is fiscally realistic. Metro Atlanta has one of the most deficient surface street networks of any major metro area in the country. As a result when the freeways become congested due to an accident, there is no alternative route causing major congestion and long delays. The Reason Atlanta plan would build 11 primary arterials as an alternative.

The Op-Ed also discusses how adding a Managed Lanes to all Atlanta freeways would help both drivers and transit users. Most importantly these new improvements can be paid for using existing funds. No additional tax dollars are required.

The complete Op-Ed is available here. The full study is available here.

Atlanta’s mobility and congestion problems are well known. It has the seventh-worst congestion in the country. The area’s residents waste 51 hours a year sitting in traffic, and those delays cost the region $3.1 billion a year.

Metro Atlanta agencies plan to spend $84 billion over the next 30 years on transportation. Unfortunately, the transportation plans treat far too many projects as stand-alone ventures intended to address single-problem spots.

Atlanta needs a connected transportation network to fix today’s congestion and handle the demands of looming population growth. Right now, Atlanta, with 7,500 lane miles, has one of the most underdeveloped surface street networks of any major U.S. area. With a similar population, Dallas has 10,000 lane miles. Detroit has a smaller population, but more lane miles — 8,600.

Surface streets, or arterials, are key to traveling within cities and also provide alternatives to congested freeways. Today, an accident on I-285 creates major congestion in part because there is no alternate route.

Baruch Feigenbaum is Assistant Director of Transportation Policy at Reason Foundation a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. Feigenbaum has a diverse background researching and implementing transportation issues including revenue and finance, public-private partnerships, highways, transit, high-speed rail, ports, intelligent transportation systems, land use, and local policymaking.

Feigenbaum is involved with various transportation organizations. He is a member of the Transportation Research Board Bus Transit Systems and Intelligent Transportation Systems Committees. He is Vice President of Programming for the Transportation and Research Forum Washington Chapter, a reviewer for the Journal of the American Planning Association (JAPA) and a contributor to Planetizen. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News and CNBC. His work has been featured in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

Prior to joining Reason, Feigenbaum handled transportation issues on Capitol Hill for Representative Lynn Westmoreland. He earned his Master's degree in Transportation Planning with a focus in Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.