ATLANTA, Ga – A set of GDOT lights that are supposed to help ease congestion have gone dark, much to the displeasure of at least one commuter.
Every morning at 6:30, Christy Kramer drives past the interchange of I-285 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard.
“It's a big mesh of all these cars weaving in and out of each other,” says Kramer. “You have two lanes coming from the Peachtree Industrial area, and they're trying to merge onto 285.”
At the same time, Christy is trying to exit I-285. It means crossing over all the traffic coming from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. The help she used to enjoy from the GDOT is now a source of frustration.
“That system was in place to help the flow of traffic,” says Kramer. “There could have been countless accidents avoided if that ramp meter system was turned on there.”
In the mid-90s, GDOT started placing ramp meters around metro Atlanta. The point is to pace traffic, allowing cars to enter metro interstates one at a time, reducing conflict in times of heavy traffic.
The lights appeared on the ramp from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard south, to I-285 west, ramp close to ten years ago...
“It's not doing the job it was intended to do,” says GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale.
GDOT says the lights are no longer effective now that traffic on the ramp has grown to as many as 3,000 cars an hour. The ramp meters were causing backups on Peachtree Industrial, so GDOT decided to turn them off.
“When we turn on that ramp meter, it backs up traffic on Peachtree Industrial so substantially, we create a much bigger problem,” says Dale.
GDOT's plan is to widen the ramp and lessen the chance of backups when the lights are on. Engineers are now in the design phase. Construction is scheduled to begin next year.