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This sucks

Nine CL writers take a spin in Atlanta's slow lane

Imagine metro Atlanta as a human body. Its roads are the circulatory system. We are the cholesterol clogging its veins.

The average Atlantan commutes 14 miles each way to work, the second longest commute in the nation. More than one person a day, on average, is killed on Atlanta's roads. And for God's sake, don't consider walking anywhere. As a pedestrian, you have a greater chance of being killed in Atlanta than anywhere else, save Tampa-St. Pete.

Atlanta's roads simply can't keep up with population growth and our ever-expanding appetite for long commutes. Despite the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority's $36 billion, 25-year plan designed to address the problems, the total miles driven by metro drivers is projected to increase by 40 percent over that time, while road capacity will go up by only 7 percent.

The most depressing result? After all the dollars spent and roads built, the average one-way commute time will go up -- from 32 to 41 minutes. That will mean almost an hour and a half tacked on to every workday, time spent not with your family, not at the gym, not having sex (probably), and not sipping a beer (hopefully) -- but behind the wheel.

Is this any way to live?

Last Thursday, the normally nocturnal and largely intown Creative Loafing staff arose before dawn to join the rest of Atlanta on its morning commute. We tagged along with drivers, riders, cops, traffic reporters, even a doctor who flies a helicopter to work. Last Thursday morning, as it turned out, was an "average" day -- a handful of fender-benders, gridlock on I-75, some dogs running loose on the Downtown Connector. Just a normal day -- but one day closer to a massive heart attack on Atlanta's roads.

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