Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
Josh Roseman: A modern-day commuter’s story
Despite the lingering effects of the Great Recession, he has seen traffic over the past year go from bad to worse.
His version of the American dream has left him little time for his family.
Figuratively-speaking, his commute is killing him.
The 33-year-old lives in East Cobb and commutes to Midtown.
“All I want is to not have to waste two hours every day,” Roseman says. “There are many things I like and prefer about living in East Cobb, but I’m seriously considering a move to DeKalb for a very simple reason: they have train stations.”
The most recent census shows that metro Atlanta’s suburbs added 1 million new residents since 2000. The Atlanta Regional Commission projects that metro Atlanta will have another 3 million new residents by 2040.
The region’s transportation infrastructure strains under this load.
“It’s not just the interstate, either,” Roseman explains. “Afternoon traffic on Sandy Plains Road northbound frequently stretches almost a mile for no reason other than volume.
“There’s no construction, no lane shifts, no merges. Just too many people on the road, by themselves.”
There are few options for Roseman. His employer permits him three telecommuting days per month, which helps.
If he chooses public transportation, Roseman’s commute becomes more complex; it even becomes more expensive.
“I have a 2007 Prius, and a round-trip costs about $3.75 in gas. MARTA would require me to drive 12-15 miles (North Springs or Sandy Springs), pay a $4 round-trip, ride the train to 10th Street, and then walk to the Techwood area. It was slightly more sensible when I worked at CNN Center, but even then, it was $8 to drive to MARTA and then ride, as opposed to $4 to just drive.”
He has tried carpooling, and Roseman has a willing partner in his neighbor. But he has found it difficult to coordinate.
“The problem is that both he and I have kids, and our kids (and wives) are on different schedules,” Roseman shares. “We can carpool maybe twice a week, and mostly we spend it sitting in traffic, complaining about how much time we’re wasting.”
Recent polls, surveys and focus groups show metro Atlanta residents have started to embrace transit because presumably they share Josh Roseman’s frustrations. They show that they may even be willing to pay for transportation improvements that include transit.
The Livable Communities Coalition conducted its own poll in May 2010, which showed similar sentiments.
Significantly, the Livable Communities Coalition poll surveyed metro residents shortly after passage of the Transportation Investment Act. The act enables the region to impose a one-cent sales tax that would go towards transportation improvements throughout the region.
For that to occur, two things must happen first.
For one, the region must identify which projects are needed to significantly enhance mobility in the region.
Cities and counties have submitted transportation project wish lists to the Georgia Department of Transportation, which will provide input to a board of regional decision-makers – the Atlanta Roundtable – who will then develop a final project list. The Roundtable must develop that list by Oct. 15.
Second, the region will vote in a region wide referendum currently scheduled for summer 2012. The referendum will ask voters whether they are willing to pay a one-cent sales tax over the course of ten years to pay for the projects identified by the Roundtable.
Roseman supports the idea, especially if it will enhance and expand transit alternatives in his part of metro Atlanta.
“I spend a lot time thinking about what I could do with an extra two hours in my day,” Roseman says. “I imagine a life that allows me to work a full day, get home in time to cook dinner for my family, and spend quality time with my daughter, plus have a little extra time to exercise, or write, or just relax before I have to start all over again at 6 a.m. the next day.”