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Is $1B Expansion At 400/285 Driving ATL In Wrong Direction?

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When the AJC wrote a couple of weeks ago about a nearly $1 billion (yes, that's a "b") expansion of the Ga. Highway 400/Interstate 285 interchange, most metro Atlanta commuters probably thought something like this: "Wow, that's a lot of money, but less traffic! Wooo!" Then maybe they read the details — three years of construction, lots and lots of debt and possible delays in other state road projects — and got a little more bummed. Then perhaps they stumbled on a blog post and petition (!) over at ATLurbanist.com and weren't stoked at all any more.

Darin, the mononymous man behind ATL Urbanist, calls for Georgia to "Build Better Neighborhoods, Not Bigger Highways." And he makes some interesting points. "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt," he writes. "Metro Atlanta is obese with car-centric development and needs to trim down with alternatives to sprawl and car dependency." Darin identifies pedestrian infrastructure and "mobility for an aging population" as the state's primary transportation needs. He contends there are more efficient ways to spend the $950 million projected for the 400/285 expansion — namely, promoting and improving transportation alternatives like transit and biking and improving affordable housing near job centers.

This isn't anything new in a city that's constantly panned as poorly planned and far too automobile-dependent (although some would argue that Atlanta's planning has always been exemplary.) With projects like the Beltline, the Atlanta Streetcar, PATH400 and a possible MARTA expansion into northern Fulton County in the works, a lot of things certainly appear to be headed in the right direction. And just when Atlantans are starting to feel a little good about the future, a billion-dollar project — and a guy named Darin — come along to rain on the parade. Which probably got stuck in traffic anyway.

— By Curbed Atlanta Contributor Tyler Estep

· Build Better Neighborhoods, Not Bigger Highways [ATL Urbanist]
· Big plans for Ga. 400/I-285 interchange just got bigger [AJC]
[ABOVE: Ga. Highway 400 at Interstate 285. Photo: Reporter Newspapers.]