Closer Look with Rose Scott, Local

GDOT, City Of Atlanta Talk Collaboration, Reducing Traffic Fatalities And Congestion

Meg Pirkle, chief engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation; Tim Matthews, project manager for GDOT; and Atlanta City planning commissioner Tim Keane join "Closer Look with Rose Scott" in studio.
Meg Pirkle, chief engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation; Tim Matthews, project manager for GDOT; and Atlanta City planning commissioner Tim Keane join "Closer Look with Rose Scott" in studio.
Credit Grace Walker / WABE

No matter how you get around the Atlanta region, all of us are traveling on the roads and highways.

What’s the key to decreasing congestion and prioritizing safety? And, how can city and state agencies work together?

These are a few of the questions “Closer Look” host Rose Scot asked city and state officials on today’s edition of the week-long series, “Gridlocked: What’s Moving Atlanta?”

 On new initiatives to reduce traffic fatalities and congestion:

Tim Matthews, project manager for GDOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program: “What we’re doing with the Major Mobility Investment Program is bringing a new type of system, called Express Lanes, which we have implemented already on the Northwest Corridor, I-75, 575, and some others. And we’re finding that’s the best way to manage congestion on these corridors versus just widening the roadway.”

Meg Pirkle, Chief Engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT: “I think that we are definitely leading in trying to build a system of connected express lanes. And that’s going to be one of the first in the nation and one of the largest.”

Atlanta City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane: “One thing to remember is that the way we have to address congestion is by getting people out of cars, of course. And, reasonably, the people that are most likely to not drive are ones that are in places where they can walk and ride their bike, happily, to a transit station. And, that happens to be denser areas of the city. And I think one important issue for Atlanta and the region is to make the city of Atlanta work exceptionally well when it comes to transit.”

On collaboration:

Atlanta City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane: “We had a great meeting with GDOT recently about that Safer Streets program and how we can work together. Because, as you said, Rose, we have streets in the city, parts of which are city parts of which are state. We have to work together.”

Meg Pirkle, Chief Engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT: “[Snowmaggedon] was an issue where between the city and the state, we both learned a lesson. And, back then, we were kind of pointing fingers at each other, and that was a turning point for both of us because our coordination now with the city is better than ever.”

On the expansion of light rail:

Atlanta City Planning Commissioner Tim Keane:  “We need tons of it in the city…You think about Chicago has an amazing transit system — the metro out to the further reaches of the region. But you know what they started with? A really good system within the city. That’s what we have to have.” 

Tim Matthews, project manager for GDOT’s Major Mobility Investment Program: “I think more options are always better. To have those options for people to make those choices, whatever that choice may be. But obviously there are constraints tied to that too — funding and many other things.”