ATLANTA, Ga – Monday, April 10, is going to be a day like no other in recent Atlanta memory, the beginning of a two-month traffic nightmare the likes of which the city has likely never seen.
As repairs continue at a rapid pace on the I-85 bridge, Monday will be the city’s biggest test, as thousands of parents, workers and students return from spring break to confront a new definition of the word, gridlock.
Even Mayor Kasim Reed is worried.
"We're not in a business as usual situation at all," Reed said while presenting traffic congestion numbers for this next week's commute. "Right now, we are hearing in the modeling that traffic and travel times will increase by 30 percent."
City and state officials are urging as many downtown commuters as possible take MARTA, carpool, use ride-sharing services or telecommute.
For anyone actually planning on driving, make sure you’ve got a full tank of gas.
"If you get in a car to go to work on the north side of the city without a full tank of gas, you are really putting yourself in jeopardy," Reed said.
MARTA is already taking steps to help ease those traffic pains with its sudden boom in ridership after the I-85 collapse.
The transit authority announced plans to expand parking lots at five high-traffic stations adding nearly 1,200 new parking spaces. On Monday, MARTA is also launching a new web-based parking tracker to help riders plan their commutes.
Plan on taking back roads? Too late.
That's already the main strategy for thousands of motorists twisting and snaking their way through back roads, side streets and traditionally quiet neighborhoods. Some families are already warning drivers to be on the lookout for kids.