The collapse of a portion of the I-85 bridge, the sinkhole in Midtown Atlanta, the fires at two other bridge locations and the challenges experienced by transit providers to move populations to work, public events and other activities, has created a new reality for Metro Atlanta.
In the movement of people across transportation networks, one of the key criteria to judge if a system is working to serve the needs of its users is to determine if the experience is enjoyable. These experiences can serve to enhance the quality of life for individual users. However, if the experience includes long unpredicted delays, extended wait times, congested corridors and limited commute options, the user is impacted emotionally, mentally, and physically.
During transportation presentations I always start with this statement: “Transportation infrastructure is not sexy and it’s not important until you can’t get to where you need to travel in a comfortable, safe, and timely manner. As soon as there is a glitch in your travel pattern, then people get concerned about their transportation infrastructure. However, your transportation infrastructure and network is as important to your quality of life and the survival of regional economics, as breath is to the human body.”
I also ask attendees to think about their transportation network and the traffic that moves through their area as they would blood moving through their heart. Whenever you have a sustained blockage of blood getting to the heart, you have a serious life threatening problem. These statements help to put the technical nuances of transportation infrastructure into a human metaphor that fosters richer discussion and understanding of why a “healthy” transportation system in Metro Atlanta is so vital.
Commuter stories shared within Metro Atlanta over the past few weeks cover the gamut from stressed behaviors on the roadways to short tempers in the workplace and home. These reactions further illustrate how commuters have been physically, emotionally and mentally taxed by the collapse of the I-85 Bridge. The consequences and impact of increased commute times cannot be negated. Routine tasks became major hurdles as users were faced with the inability to pick up or deliver children to school, tutors, or after school activities. The business community also experienced a drain on its resources given the increased need to run business fleets and the deleterious toll experienced by everyone.
I am seeking responses from those who were impacted by the recent Metro Atlanta infrastructure catastrophes. Please direct them to this survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NV9VYJM). The survey is anonymous and only aggregated data will be used and collected to help add to a better understanding of how users would like to see our transportation system improved.
Lisa Marie Glover has more than 25 years in the field of transportation planning. A committed, motivated, strategic and innovative professional with experience in corporate, municipal, and governmental business environments. She is the Principal Consultant of Ivy Vining Consulting, LLC. Follow us at ivyviningconsulting.com.