Amazon recently had its 24th birthday, and with the celebration, many believed Amazon would reveal the location of their intended second headquarters. A list of 20 cities was released, and Atlanta, GA was thrilled to make the list.
But Atlanta made another list this year that was not so exciting - the list of most congested cities in the world. And winning the Amazon HQ 2 bid would certainly not help the problem. INRIX, known for its stats and up-to-date information on traffic worldwide, listed Atlanta at as having the 8th worst traffic in the world, ranking #4 in the US behind New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. But worst congestion and time in traffic were not the only statistics the study measured, INRIX also calculated that $305 billion dollars were wasted in time and fuel, and that’s an average of $1,445 per commuter.
In a survey called “Metro Atlanta Speaks,” the traffic and congestion were also on everyone’s mind. 27.2% of metro residents say transportation is the region’s biggest problem, followed by crime (16.9 percent), public education (11.5 percent), human services (9.3 percent) and the economy (9.2 percent). And this year is the 4th year running that transportation has topped this list. 3 out of 4 residents also said improved public transportation was “very important” for metro Atlanta’s future. Newcomers to Atlanta were also polled, and they listed “sprawl” and “traffic” as two of the things they least liked about their new city.
Atlanta has already been working on plans to begin tackling the traffic issue. But sadly, the Atlanta Regional Commission believes average commute times will only rise and average freeway speeds will fall in coming years even with the new plans completed. Why? Because Atlanta is growing with opportunities like Amazon’s HQ 2. Metro Atlanta is expected to add another 2.4 million people by 2040.
So, what are other ways to tackle the traffic issue in Atlanta? Interestingly enough, Metro Atlanta may be growing out of control, but that’s not the case for all of Atlanta. As a matter of fact, the city of Atlanta has fewer people living there today than in 1970. The map below depicts Atlanta’s population growth and loss, and the brown areas highlight places in Atlanta that have lost more than 5% of their population between the last two censuses. The purple areas grew substantially. This helps to explain why people are frustrated by Atlanta’s traffic and sprawl.
We believe that targeted school scholarships for low-income areas losing population could help Atlanta retain families who are moving out of the city of Atlanta and sprawling into the suburbs, often away from their jobs and to better school districts. Learn more about how targeted educational opportunity could mean less spending, less traffic, and more economic growth in areas of concentrated poverty. The Amazon HQ 2 details may still be a mystery, but Atlanta can take steps that make the metro area more livable, and it should do so.
Image via Brett Weistein