According to figures in a just-released study by Texas A&M University, Cobb County drivers beat the metro-area average by a considerable margin when it comes to the amount of time spent stuck in traffic.
On the down side, the national study of 500 cities showed Atlanta and New York City tied for third place in terms of the time spent commuting. Washington had the unenviable distinction of having both the most congestion and the longest trip times. Atlanta was ranked as the seventh most-congested metro area.
As for time spent commuting, Cobb drivers average only 30 minutes in their daily commutes — a pittance when compared to the metro area’s average of 50 minutes. And we beat that average even though it’s not as if most Cobb residents are working right down the street. The U.S. Census Bureau says that 42 percent of Cobb residents (or 145,000 people) work outside the county.
Brian Carr, spokesman for the Clean Air Campaign, noted to the MDJ that the region has “a pretty big toolbox” of strategies for reducing traffic.
“You look at ramp meters and things like 511 and mapping where the hot spots are, and HERO trucks that clear stalls, you have a robust set of tools,” he said.
The area also employs traffic signal coordination, HOV lanes, and a 511 traffic-info hotline. None of those alone are a magic weapon for curing congestion, but they add up.
Cobb voters (like their counterparts elsewhere in the metro area) overwhelming voted down last summer’s 1 percent Transportation Special Option Local Option Sales Tax, which would have been levied for 10 years. The bulk of Cobb’s TSPLOST revenues, $689 million, would have been used to build either a “premium transit service” or possibly a commuter rail line from the Galleria area south to connect with MARTA rail in Midtown Atlanta. Pro-TSPLOST forces spent roughly $8.6 million to push for the tax, but their campaign fell on deaf ears.
The 69 percent of Cobb residents who voted against the tax obviously didn’t want their taxes raised and also didn’t want to be on the hook for future TSPLOSTs to pay for the maintenance and operations and expansions of those transit lines. And equally clear is the fact that many of them felt either that local congestion is not that bad, or else that the proposed solutions were not the right ones.
The study’s findings would seem to reflect — although perhaps inadvertently — at least some of those sentiments.