If you’ve driven the neighborhoods around the collapsed I-85 bridge in Buckhead, you may have noticed some streets have been posted with signs that say “no thru traffic during I-85 closure.”
It’s one way Atlanta is coping with the traffic jams that have followed the epic collapse of one of the main highways into the heart of the city. The idea, apparently, is to keep local neighborhoods from being inundated by motorists looking for shortcuts – any shortcuts – to minimize their miserable commutes.
The signs have been spotted in the Morningside and Virginia Highland neighborhoods. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked for a list of posted streets. Instead, a city spokesperson issues a statement about Atlanta’s efforts to address traffic in the wake of the bridge collapse.
"As we consider the likelihood of congestion and longer travel times over the next few weeks, the public should know the city’s priority is preserving access for our first responders and to hospitals,” the statement said.
“As motorists look for different routes to commute to work and school, the city is taking action to protect residential streets and neighborhoods which are not designed to accommodate heavy traffic. These measures include prohibiting non-local traffic in certain areas while Interstate 85 bridge reconstruction is underway.”
The statement said “engineers will make real-time adjustments to signals to keep increased traffic volume moving on major thoroughfares, which should alleviate the need to take smaller side streets.”
“The public should also notice increased presence from the Atlanta Police Department throughout the City during morning and evening commutes,” it said. “APD will rigorously enforce ‘Don’t Block the Box’ laws, will work to ensure emergency access for first responders and will also enforce the new restrictions on travel in residential areas.”
Former Sen. Vincent Fort, who is running for mayor of Atlanta, thinks the city's decision to "wall off neighborhoods" is a mistake.
"The fact is, everybody ought to share in trying to make the (traffic) situation as palatable as possible," Fort told the AJC. "Walling off neighborhoods, I'm not sure that's the best way to do it."
If the city's move puts a crimp in your commuting plans, here are some ways you can make your travel a little easier.