News - 'Should the Northern Arc expressway be built?'
Yes. The arc wouldn't solve all our traffic woes, but it would bring relief to some of the area's most congested roads
Gridlock isn't coming to Atlanta. It's here.
Traffic is bad all over, but some of the worst is north of the city. And some of the worst of the worst such traffic moves — or doesn't move — east to west and back.
The Northern Arc — an east-west limited-access highway connecting I-75 and I-85 by way of Canton and Cumming — wouldn't solve all the traffic woes north of town, but it would bring relief to some of the area's most congested roads. It should be built.
How did we get here, with too much traffic jamming too little asphalt? It wasn't hard, given metro Atlanta's rapid population growth. Between 1988 and 1998, traffic volume soared 60 percent while road capacity expanded by just 16 percent.
Roads in the northern suburbs were particularly overmatched. During the 1990s, metro Atlanta welcomed a million new people — 70 percent settled north of the city.
Today, Atlanta needs more road capacity, so we should build more road capacity. It ought to be as simple and axiomatic as adding memory to overtaxed computers or space to overcrowded schools. But it isn't.
Instead, environmental extremists and their media cohorts have obscured the obvious by demonizing suburban growth instead of dealing with it. Opposing the Northern Arc, they cry and complain about "sprawl" — a four-letter word inexplicably burdened with two extra characters.
Yet one man's sprawl is another's spread, a chance to live the American dream of house, yard, dog, maybe even a pool. Yes, much of suburbialand is blighted with chain eateries and strip-malls, treeless subdivisions and soulless houses. Tough.
That's what people seem to want. By the thousands, they keep coming to suburbialand, voting with their feet, their wallets and their cars, always their cars. And, much as they complain about the traffic, they aren't going to trade ChemLawn dreams for intown high-rises. Not here anyway.
Environ- mental elites look down their noses at suburbs and suburbanites, convinced they know better. They don't. Their precious "smart growth," for example, is actually pretty dumb. Building offices and homes together won't get folks out of their cars: people change jobs too often, and most families rely on two wage earners.
Atlanta will never be a quaint European city, delightful as they are with their compact charm and efficient mass transit. Atlanta grew up as a car town and will always be a car town.
Now more people are coming and they're bringing their cars. We need to be ready. More roads would help.