Cut Through Traffic Congestion in Atlanta
As much as I love the Big Peach (as Atlanta is known in jazzy circles), I cannot dispute several national surveys that rank our traffic congestion as being some of the worst in the country. The problem is caused by the lack of bridges. Three Interstate Highways, 75, 85 and 20, arrive from six different directions here, converge, and cut the city into six sections just like a pizza. Each wedge of this Peach pizza is connected to its neighbors by only a few bridges. Our Perimeter Highway, the interstate ring around the Atlanta Metro area, is no help at all to drivers within it, and it is constantly clogged by drivers traveling from suburb to suburb during rush hour. When rush hour heats up, it is awe-inspiring to watch these Interstates and their bridges become flooded. The busiest and most prosperous wedge of Atanta is northeasterly, between Interstates 85 and 20. This wedge runs up into Gwinnett County and contains millions of people and their families, including mine.
When I need to get to Downtown Atlanta, the first thing I do is check the clock. The Interstates are still a great way to drive from 8 p.m. till 6 a.m., and from 9 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. Be careful though - all you need is one jackknifed truck to lock up the freeway for hours on end. If the time is not right for the freeway, and you need to go between Gwinnett and Downtown, TAKE THESE ROADS! Lawrenceville Highway originates in the center of Gwinnett's county center and runs for 20 miles straight through to Ponce De Leon Boulevard, Atlanta's main east-west artery. Lawrenceville Highway is well-known, however, and you may do better to take this offshoot - Lilburn-Stone Mountain Road, a little lane that leaves Lawrenceville Highway. and drops down south several miles to Stone Mountain Freeway ( a very accessible short strip of four-lane highway that doesn't often get locked up and also connects Gwinnett to Ponce De Leon and Midtown Atlanta). Lavista Road is another great offshoot of Lawrenceville Highway - it's a two-lane suburban boulevard that carries a lot of traffic between Midtown and Gwinnett. Both Lavista and Lawrenceville Highway become more choked as you get to the heart of the Metro area. Once you are inside the Perimeter (Interstate 285), get yourself to a little-known route called Dekalb Avenue. It runs from Five Points area in the heart of our Downtown skyscrapers to the small neighborhood of Decatur, where Lawrenceville Highway and Ponce De Leon come within a quick jump of it. Dekalb Ave. is unpopular because of its third lane in the middle, which switches directions according to the time of day - one of the most frightening ways to drive that I could possibly imagine. Just stay in the right lane and you'll be fine. In over ten years of driving, I've never gotten into a traffic jam on Dekalb Ave.
Lavista Road, Lilburn-Stone Mountain Road, and Dekalb Avenue are each surrounded by intersections that allow you flexibility. They are far and away the best routes bewtween Gwinnett, Midtown and Downtown during rush hour. Find them on your favorite mapping sites and learn the routes!