ATLANTA — If you are heading back to work or school on Monday after spring break, make sure you give yourself enough time to deal with traffic on the roads.
Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic kept people home instead of out working, shopping and socializing, the Georgia Department of Transportation says traffic on our highways and interstates is now mostly back to normal.
Natalie Dale with the Georgia Department of Transportation watches patterns on Georgia interstates and highways very closely and has been zeroing in on traffic volume since the pandemic began.
“What our data shows is that freight was for the most part, largely unaffected. There may have been a small blip there, but commuter traffic was,” Dale said. “It felt like traffic shut down.”
Commuter traffic, or the number of cars going back and forth from home to work, significantly dropped at the start of the pandemic.
Dale said that two years in, the number of people on the road is normal. What’s different is when people are on the road.
“In the mornings, we have a longer a.m. commute time,” Dale said.
She said that is because companies who were forced to work remotely for so long now know that employees will still be productive when they are allowed to determine their own start times.
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“Small businesses, large businesses have really seen that they can give their employees that flexibility,” Dale said.
Channel 2′s Lori Wilson spoke with drivers who said they are monitoring traffic closely too.
“I’ve noticed more accidents and more crashes. So it seems to be running fine and then all of the sudden you will hit a big backup,” driver Joanna McInnis said.
“In my opinion, it might be worse than it was before the pandemic. But yeah, it’s definitely back to normal,” driver Nas Farrow said.
Dale said what hasn’t changed since the pandemic began is the evening commute. It is still solidly from 4-7 p.m. But Dale said that isn’t all bad.
“Congestion on the road, it means people are working, it means freight is moving, it means things are happening. And for a while there, I think we might have taken that for granted,” Dale said.
While Dale said people should expect traffic to be heavy as usual as they head back to work or school after spring break, she said the real litmus test for Atlanta commuter traffic is still a few months away.
“I think when we’re really going to begin to see everyone recognize that we are back to Atlanta traffic is after the summer months when schools are back in, in sort of a typical way,” Dale said.
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