Long story short: Atlanta’s State Route 400 AKA the toll-road that directly connects Midtown to Sandy Springs is finally getting rid of the toll plazas, and will very soon become a free road to travel. Many believe that this will ease congestion throughout the city.
Here’s my prediction: traffic on 400 will become worse than ever once it becomes a free road. When it occurs to every single person who grinds through I-75 to get onto I-285 to get to Sandy Springs because they don’t want to pay the 400 toll, a good chunk of them are going to start taking 400. In addition to all the people who take 400 on a regular basis, because that’s their daily routine already.
This will undoubtedly peeve everyone who was a regular 400 user, when it was a toll road, because now the road they paid to use in order to have a lighter commute is suddenly going to be way more occupied with people who haven’t contributed nearly what they did to the toll plaza throughout the years. 400 was pretty much the route for the rich, since it crossed by all the affluent northern neighborhoods of Alpharetta, Roswell and Milton in addition to Sandy Springs. The rich folk had no objection or problem playing a pedestrian $1 a day to have lighter traffic. There will be resentment and there will be aggressive driving that occurs as a result of this. The guy in the BMW or Mercedes isn’t going to be able to play real-life Gran Turismo as easily as they were once capable of doing in the past.
Ironically, if there’s any place for there to be relief, it’ll probably be I-75 north, and the small stretch of I-285 eastbound between Powers Ferry and Roswell Road, where people ditching that route in favor of 400 will be taking.
I-85 and Spaghetti Junction will still be fucked because those cross roads are pretty much some of the worst intersecting highways on the planet.
But as far as “easing congestion” throughout the city goes, that’s probably not going to happen. It’s just going to distribute it more evenly between three routes, and in fact make it worse for those who didn’t mind paying the 400 toll in the first place. But if I’m a betting man, there’s no relief in sight to be had from any of this, at all.