Originally created 11/25/03

Atlantans hate city's traffic, survey shows



ATLANTA - Anyone from Augusta or other parts of the state would agree that trying to get around in Georgia's capital city is often frustrating, and a new survey shows that even the people who live in metro Atlanta sometimes feel the same way.

Traffic and transportation came out as the region's biggest problem when the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute of Government polled 1,650 residents of metro Atlanta's 10 innermost counties.

The poll, conducted Oct. 8-16, was commissioned by the Atlanta Regional Commission, a regional planning agency. It has a 3.9 percent margin of error.

For Sam Miller, the results are no surprise.

"I don't like all the traffic," said the Cobb County resident, who prefers to take the bus downtown to work. "I'm not convinced other people know how to drive."

Sure, Atlanta had roughly 200,000 crimes last year, air pollution nearly as bad as Los Angeles and one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country. But 34 percent of those surveyed ranked getting around by car as the worst problem.

Another 14 percent mentioned a related issue, sprawl and overdevelopment.

Only 12 percent listed crime as the area's biggest problem, even though the FBI's crime index for the area is the second-highest of any major Georgia city, behind only Savannah.

Just 11 percent of respondents cited environmental issues, despite huge federal fines for Atlanta's decrepit sewage system and water supplies that are so short some leaders are discussing piping it up from the coast.

Since roughly half of the state's residents live in metro Atlanta, Gov. Sonny Perdue has looked for ways to address traffic without stretching the state's depleted budget. One plan was to synchronize the thousands of traffic signals, but even that proved too expensive.

He announced Monday the installation of computer terminals in all the welcome centers so motorists can instantly see where traffic is jammed up because of construction, wrecks or the glare of sunlight.

The installation will cost taxpayers $178,000, but he's hoping businesses will pay $20,000 each for their own terminals to help employees become more informed drivers.

"The only part of their day that's more frustrating than their morning commute is their afternoon commute," Mr. Perdue said.

Reach Walter C. Jones at (404) 589-8424 or walter.jones@morris.com.