If January’s paralyzing winter storm taught us anything, it’s that Atlanta’s infrastructure has a ton of room for improvement. More than a million drivers packed interstates and surface streets in an attempt to get home and ended up going absolutely nowhere – in some cases, for more than a day. In response to national criticism, Governor Nathan Deal said that it the snow and ice wasn’t the real problem on that fateful Tuesday afternoon, it was the sheer volume of traffic that hit the roads at the same time.
The metro area’s population has increased by 28.5% since 2000, growth only exceeded by two other cities in the US (Houston and Dallas). And yet the budget for infrastructure in the state has decreased in the same time period. In fact, the only state to spend less on roads and infrastructure in 2013 than Georgia was Alaska. Last year, Georgia spent only $2.78 billion on transportation and infrastructure whereas Texas spent over $30 billion.
Atlanta has come out of the recession stronger than anyone predicted and in doing so has spurred tons of new investments and developments. Several major corporations have chosen to relocate their HQs to Atlanta (Pulte Group, MailChimp, Spanx) and several submarkets have major projects underway that will draw more people to the city than ever before (Buckhead Atlanta, new Falcons stadium, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights). The thing that will slow all of the amazing progress the city has made since the economic downturn seven years ago is that fact that we currently don’t have the infrastructure to accommodate our current growth, much less an influx of “outsiders” drawn to the city’s attractions. Atlanta’s rush hour traffic alone is enough to deter someone from passing through the city and Atlanta consistently tops the list of yearly delay per auto commuter. If Atlanta is going to continue to make strides in the right direction, we need to first fix the path we walk on.Share