A diverging diamond interchange at Interstate 75 and Windy Hill Road, somehow two decades in the making, will be ready for the opening of the Braves' new SunTrust Park in 2017. And some officials seem convinced it will make a tremendous difference. Earlier this week, swarms of politicos were seen awkwardly standing on the side of a road, posing with yellow jackhammers (because shovels are so passé) at a ceremonial groundbreaking. The interchange, which diverts traffic to the left side of the road to help ease congestion on and off the highway, will join a handful of existing diverging diamonds in Atlanta. The first opened in 2012 at Interstate 285 and Ashford-Dunwoody Road, and two more have followed in Gwinnett, linking Pleasant Hill and Jimmy Carter with Interstate 85. The continued interest of adding them throughout the city is either indicative of their success, or Atlantans' desires to pretend they're driving in the United Kingdom.
Also in attendance was Atlanta Braves executive Mike LaPlante, which raised questions about the fortuitously timed expected completion date. In a video posted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an exuberant, gesticulating Dave Huddleston of Channel 2 addresses the casual coincidence of the project timeline, but he isn't quite hard-hitting. Rather, in a string of dependent clauses without a clear trajectory, LaPlante seems to offer an explanation as to why the Braves decided to move to Cobb. The casual mentioning of "transit" raises red flags on the issue of accessibility via public transit which has dogged the proposal from the get-go. The diverging diamond, LaPlante says, is part of a plan that will allow fans to "leave games in a much more expedient manner." Let's hope that's because everyone is staying at games until the end, instead of fleeing in the bottom of the seventh.
The renderings for the Windy Hill interchange show a bridge adorned with some swoopy fins, providing something other than a boring bridge for people to look at while sitting in traffic, which will make the two years of traffic nightmares during construction totally worth it.
Earlier this year, in an attempt to give context to SunTrust Park's traffic projections in the already congested corridor, we found that a well-attended afternoon game would be like having every car from Atlantic Station, the Georgia Dome and the airport's rental car center descending on Cobb County at once. Good luck penetrating that. Wise fans will go early or, um, bike commute.
— Michael Kahn