The project to rebuild and add lanes to Ga. 400/I-285 will last three years, cost an estimated $950 million and will be the most expensive road project in state history. The worst part: we'll be building something that we don't need to build.
Studies show that adding new lanes on congested roads will create induced demand over time, so that a very short-term amount of relief ends up being another avenue for congestion.
We cannot solve our transportation problems by adding more lanes to highways. Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt. Metro Atlanta is obese with car-centric development and needs to trim down with alternatives to sprawl and car dependency -- ones that build stronger neighborhoods that are not as dependent on cars for commuting.
Primary needs: pedestrian infrastructure & mobility for an aging population
Georgia is a state that has a pedestrian death rate 25% higher than the national average. We need to fund safe pedestrian infrastructure before we make expensive attempts to "ease commutes" for interstate drivers.
Metro Atlanta has an aging population with growing mobility needs. A recent study projected that 90 percent of seniors would have poor access to transit by 2015. We are in dire need of solutions for this problem and money to fund them.
There are more efficient ways to spend this money
We can't afford to spend this much money on a single interchange given these other pressing concerns, particularly not in a state that is unwilling to raise the gas tax or to institute a VMT tax in order to build revenue for transportation projects.
Congestion relief efforts should be focused more efficiently and should involve steps that strengthen communities in a sustainable way: encouraging less car use, promoting affordable housing near job centers, and growth in use of (and infrastructure for) transportation alternatives such as bicycling and transit.
Let's send state leaders the message. The mobility needs of all Metro Atlantans can be served more sustainably and efficiently by building better neighborhoods, not bigger highways.