I've come to expect this of Atlanta: driving down I-75, going at least 75mph in a 55 and getting passed by cars like I'm going out of style. There are some crazy fast drivers in the city, not to mention some plain crazy ones. I had to chuckle at reading an article published last week in the AJC. Titled DOT to weekend drivers: Skip the Connector
(August 5, 2008),
it basically said that traffic has been getting so backed up on the connector during the repaving project because drivers have been ignoring the signs and recommendations to stay off the highway during the weekends. And, because of this, drivers have been causing up to two-hour traffic jams.
I don't know how much of it is due to summer travelers just rolling through town...maybe there should be clearer messages for motorists to take I-285 on weekends if they are just passing through. But, it seems there are also just a lot of people in town who either haven't paid attention to road work notifications or think they are the exception to the traffic rule. I was pretty shocked to read in this same article that people getting stuck in the traffic of their own making were calling to complain about trying to get people to the airport.
Ok, it is bad enough to attempt weekend travel on the connector. It is another thing to not think to use MARTA. Sure, MARTA is not perfect, but it has a straight shot into the terminal at Hartsfield. Taking MARTA to the airport is probably the best time to use MARTA -- no traffic, no parking and you literally exit the station into Delta kiosks. I traveled to the airport recently from intown, and two hours from the point of waking, dressing, walking to the station and transferring trains, I was sitting on my plane. It helps that the airport is only 16 minutes from the Five Points station, and stays 16 minutes, no matter what is going on with the roads.
If you are just transporting people to the airport, drop them off at your nearest station and I guarantee their travel time will be much more assured than a risk on the connector where repaving, an accident or Braves game throws a wrench into the traffic flow. Even on MARTA's bad days, the trains don't usually break down for more than 15 minutes...no where near two hours.
If you do need to drive, I'm a big fan of taking Piedmont or Juniper/Courtland through town. A good time to bail is at 17th Street if you are heading southbound into the city, as traffic usually starts backing up just beyond that point. Sure, if you get off the highway the roads can be confusing, as half seem to change directions and names at least once, but I'd rather study some maps, become friends with my GPS or hop on the train ($1.75 one way sure beats $4/gallon gas) than be one of those people pointed out in the AJC for being personally responsible for causing traffic jams.