Welcome back, spring breakers!! Hope you had a great vacation.
To be brutally honest, we didn’t miss you.
Ok, that’s not completely true. Of course we missed you. It’s just that a lot happened while you were away, and we’ve been settling into a whole new way of life here in metro Atlanta. Quite honestly, and please don’t take this the wrong way, but your return throws a gigantic congested wrinkle on the situation. So, unless I can somehow convince you to spend another ten weeks on the beach, here’s a few things that you must know:
Your typical drive to work is history. Finished. Toast. Time to try something new. I’m talking mainly to anyone who is accustomed to driving into midtown or downtown. While you were on vacation, the rest of us have been searching for the best route around the I-85 bridge collapse. Truthfully, there is no best route. Piedmont is slammed. Ditto Sidney Marcus Boulevard. I-285 is experiencing a 40% increase in traffic. It’s worse than that on Cheshire Bridge Road, and that’s with you away. And the Buford Spring Connector? Well, let me tell you about the poor Buford Spring Connector. It is the most direct route past the missing sections of I-85, and it is stressed to the max. There is one lane open southbound. One lane is not going to handle the volume that used to travel on a massive interstate. Get out your map. Dial up Waze. Find another way.
Think about ditching your car for awhile. Seriously. I know that metro commuters are attached to their cars like mud to a truck tire, but life here has changed. There are actually some local teachers who plan to bike to work. You heard me. So many people have turned to MARTA, that the parking lots north of town are bulging more than grandpa’s waistline after Thanksgiving dinner. Now is the time to connect with some of your co-workers and discuss carpooling. Even better, talk to the boss about working from home. Believe me, if it wasn’t my job to PURPOSELY get caught in this mess, I would gladly spend a day working in my pajamas.
If you insist on driving, start now looking for routes that steer you away from the bridge collapse, and reset your alarm clock. The Georgia Department of Transportation has run models that indicate your commute into downtown or midtown is going to take you 25-30% longer. So, if you’re used to an hour drive from Alpharetta, add another 15-18 minutes of exhaust and talk radio. Those of you accustomed to leaving the house at 6:30 might want to try 6 a.m. And from what I saw last week while you were away, the morning rush hour is going to last past noon, so leaving later probably isn’t a viable solution. I suspect the morning and evening rush hour is going to join forces to create a new KAOS. You do remember KAOS, right? The evil organization from Get Smart? Remember? Maxwell Smart? Agent 99? KAOS? No? Nevermind.
Be patient. Be kind. Be respectful. No matter who you are or where you’re going, you’re journey is no more important than that of the people around you. This is not the time to make up your own rules. If you encounter a jammed intersection, wait until it clears and there’s room for you on the other side. When you see a crowded turn lane, don’t be shocked when your efforts to zip to the front of the line are met with stern rebuke. And if you’re one of those patient drivers who encounters the smug and the entitled, consider offering some forgiveness and a little space. I know, I know, allowing them to cut in line will look like you’re offering approval for their bad behavior, but your clever hand gestures will have no effect on them. Let them in for sake of the poor souls stuck behind them. After all, it’s only one car length. It will delay your trip less than a second.
Here’s hoping I can follow my own advice.
Anyway, welcome home. Hope you’re tan, rested, and ready to face the challenges we’ve endured for the past week. Our problem is now your problem. If you’re one of the many whose vacation was disrupted by flight cancellations and delays, you’re about to learn the true meaning of “grounded”. There are no travel agents to book you a new commute into town. This is all on you. Study up. Plan a new route, a different way of commuting, or wake up a little earlier. Download some of your favorite music, or maybe an audio book. Might I suggest you avoid titles like, A Bridge Too Far, or, On The Road, or, The Odyssey.
I’ll lean on the poetic words of the artful Jimmy Buffett.
Come Monday, it will be alright.