Built Environment Analysis: Atlanta’s Transportation Infrastructure

map atl roads

“In Atlanta, morning rush hour is from 7:00am to Noon and evening rush hour is from Noon to 7:00pm.” “Atlanta has so many one-ways, the only way to get out of Downtown is to drive all the way to Greenville, SC and turn around.” Traffic is such an epidemic in Atlanta that it’s become an inside joke. It sounds lighthearted when framed in that way, but anyone who has had their 30-minute commute turned into a 2-hour road trip on certain days can tell you that it most certainly isn’t. And it may seem deserved based on Atlanta’s population ranking and prominence compared to other American cities, but that’s not the case. A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that Atlanta has the 12th worst traffic in the country (“Think Atlanta…”) while Atlanta ranks only 39th in the US by population (“List of United States Cities by Population”). This lack in efficiency is not an unavoidable effect of becoming a large city in the United States, but is evidence of a much larger and systemic problem with the built environment of Atlanta and the surrounding metro area. Atlanta’s infrastructure contains inherent flaws which prevent it from adequately coping with the level of traffic it receives on a daily basis. While the city does have public transit options, the urban sprawl has greatly outpaced them in size compared to other metropolitan areas of a similar size.