Cobb commutes are better than the average in Atlanta
by Noreen Cochran
February 13, 2013 12:00 AM | 5902 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Motorists travel on I-75N near the I-575 split in June. Cobb County drivers have shorter average commute times than most metro Atlanta drivers.<br>Staff/file
Motorists travel on I-75N near the I-575 split in June. Cobb County drivers have shorter average commute times than most metro Atlanta drivers.
Staff/file
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In a traffic study released last week, Atlanta and New York tied for third place in time spent commuting nationwide, but Cobb County drivers beat the average. They spend only 30 minutes each way, slicing the metro area’s overall 50-minute trip time by 40 percent.

The study by Texas A&M University named metro Atlanta the seventh most-congested city in the U.S.

Nearly 500 cities were included in the 2012 Urban Mobility Report from the university’s Texas Transportation Institute, in which Washington ranked No. 1 and Atlanta tied with Chicago in terms of congestion. Washington also was No. 1 in trip times, weighing in at 53 minutes.

Metro Atlanta ranked fourth for costs ramped up by trucks delivering shipments late, seventh for individual commuter delays and expenses, and eighth in wasted time.

Brian Carr, spokesman for the Clean Air Campaign, said Friday more than 2 million Atlanta commuters lose 51 hours a year to traffic jams.

“Any of us would be much happier doing anything else. That’s an entire weekend,” he said. “That’s an entire work week that goes up in smoke because of traffic delays.”

Carr said local drivers are clawing their way out of gridlock through sharing the ride, even if they’re not telecommuting, like he does, or using Cobb Community Transit buses.

“More than 10 percent of Cobb County commuters carpool. That’s above average,” he said. “That’s a very accessible way to get into an alternative arrangement.”

Driving is still going to be a necessity, he said, because, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 42 percent of Cobb County commuters work outside the county.

“Most of Atlanta’s commuters live in one county and work in another,” said Carr, a DeKalb County resident whose office is in Fulton County. “We got some long-haul commuters from Cobb County.”

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, nearly 180,000 county residents work in Cobb, and 145,000 commute to Fulton, DeKalb and other counties.

The Texas study ranked Atlanta in the midrange for reliability, which is how much time commuters can expect to get from Point A to Point B on Interstate 75, Ga. 400 or other highways.

Atlanta drivers need to triple or quadruple the time for a late-night ride to calculate their rush-hour commute.

Again, Washington was No. 1, with its commuters needing to multiply by five or six to allow for crashes, stalls, bad weather, road construction or other events.

Carr said for Atlanta drivers, allowing 60 to 80 minutes for a 20-minute trip is “predictably unreliable.”

“People are adept at knowing how much they need to plan,” he said. “There’s a notion of being resigned to the fact that a 20-minute trip time will take an hour. We’ve become used to padding our trip times, but it shouldn’t have to be that way.”

Ramp meters, traffic signal coordination, HOV lanes, Georgia’s 511 traffic info hotline and other strategies are doing some good, the study said.

Without those measures, delays would be increased by another three hours per commuter, and the cost of delays for Atlanta drivers would accelerate from $1,120 per driver to $1,196 — already well above the national average of $818.

“This region has a unique story to tell,” Carr said. “We have a pretty big toolbox to work with for strategies to reduce traffic. You look at ramp meters and things like 511 and mapping where the hot spots are, and HERO trucks that clear stalls, you have a robust set of tools.”

Another tool in the box, he said, is the Georgia Commute Options program developed by the campaign and the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Our partners at the Georgia DOT said the region can’t build our way out of congestion. There are more reasons people should consider alternatives to driving alone. There is a network to find carpool partners, incentives and workplace programs,” Carr said.

Skeptics may argue the campaign wants to ban automobiles, but he said that is not true.

“The actions we’re after do not require people to abandon their cars for good. Our program is just about using them less,” Carr said.

East Cobb resident Larry Savage said there are better ways to cut traffic.

“What we need is an unrelenting focus on eliminating traffic congestion and separate our thinking from all these sideshows,” he said. “We’re diverting more money than people realize into bike paths and streetscaping projects. They have no real benefit in getting people to work.”

Savage said he wants to get involved with the Traffic Incident Management Enhancement task force, or TIME.

“Most people will tell you if nothing if goes wrong, they’ll get to work on time. The problem is, something goes wrong too often. Every time it does, we start from scratch as to what to do,” he said. “We need to study and eliminate accidents by working on the causes, learn how to respond more quickly and get people on their way.”
Comments
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LoveAmericaToo
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February 14, 2013
A headline like this could only come from the bowels of the We Love Marietta Commission and the Cobb=God's Heaven Committee! I live in West Cobb and commute to mid town Atlanta each day: and I'm telling you it is nothing to be patting ourselves on the back about. It could be SO MUCH better if the city of Marietta would cooperate and treat us West Cobbers with respect. It wouldn't take much to make a HUGE difference in our daily commute, e.g. make Whitlock and Polk one way in each direction, widen Burnt Hickory through the park, stop closing Polk at the middle school for football Fridays, etc.
VFP42
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February 13, 2013
East Cobb Larry says “We’re diverting more money than people realize into bike paths and streetscaping projects. They have no real benefit in getting people to work.”

Really Larry? Maybe bike lanes & paths are purely recreational in East Cobb since East Cobb is a vast wasteland of stripmalls and eight lane roads. However, in better places than Strip Mall East, people can and do walk and bike to work.

The only way to realize the existence of non-car-using people involves exiting your own car, though, so you're not likely to realize what life is out there.

If you exit your car (somewhere other than the strip mall) you start to notice there are a LOT of people out there who are not using cars. When you're in your car zipping past them at 55mph you just don't even notice them. Perhaps it's because the TV commercials have tied all human worth to cars? Turn off the TV, Larry. Park the car and leave it there a few days, Larry. See how your life improves.

Come out of your hole Larry and experience living. Your comments with your car blinders on make Curly and Moe sound like the smart ones.
anonymous
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February 13, 2013
Man, you are one hateful person. Do you wake up every single day in the bad mood you portray in all your vents? Come out of your hole VFP42 and experience living instead of criticizing every little thing you read. Why do you have to insult people? Can't you make a point without being crude?
To VFP42
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February 14, 2013
Apparently the finance company repossessed your car. Now, step away from your computer, put your hate in your pocket, go apply for a job, work hard and save your money, then buy a car and get off the bus.

Those bus people are destroying your ability to be happy.

Or, move to Clayton County where you will find a lot more to complain about.
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