View From a Cop: Steve Rose Explains Flex Lanes Coming to Ga. 400, Next Week

A change is coming for Sandy Springs commuters. Even though you hear the blaring siren of the emergency vehicle coming up on you, don’t freak out.


Okay, here’s the thing.

I know that you’re already saying to yourself “Driving on Ga. 400 couldn’t get much more fun than it is.”

Well, it’s going to.

Yes. The new reality show called “Flex Lanes” is coming to 400 on May 14.

For those of you who are not familiar, let me explain: The following was proposed and put into play by Governor Nathan Deal: Beginning on May 14, a Monday, the southbound lanes from Holcomb Bridge Road south to the North Springs MARTA Station will include the lane, formerly known as the emergency lane, now called the Flex Lane. 

The emergency lane is that lane all the way to the right which has been in the past, used for emergencies and those wanting to exit onto Northridge from 400 southbound and occasionally, those who are just rude and decided they were entitled. First of all, the Flex Lanes will include that area of Northridge Road.

When traffic stacks up, drivers tend to move over to the emergency lane anywhere from a hundred yards or so to a quarter mile, depending on how heavy the flow of traffic is. That now being the Flex Lane will operate as a traffic lane and the exiting traffic will hamper that process, or at least it seems that way. Beyond that, merging traffic from Northridge now has a lane to utilize, much like the southbound lane from Holcomb Bridge Road. 

Entering traffic will have plenty of roadway to gradually merge if they need to but can use the lane as far as the MARTA exit.

Tell me in the comments if you think Flex Lanes are good idea?

Another question that comes up is what about emergency vehicles? 

First, every lane has a number. If you’re looking down the road and the median wall is on the left, the lane on the far left is the no. 1 lane. Number one being next to the median wall, then no. 2, 3, 4, and so on.

That being said, our emergency vehicles, being fire trucks, police cars, and me trying to get to work, will utilize the space between the no. 1 lane and no. 2 lane. In order for this to work, those in the no. 1 lane would shift left to use that small space next to the median, you know, the one where all the car bumpers, ladders and for some reason, yellow construction helmets, pile up, and those in the no. 2 lane will shift right a foot or two. That will leave room, although not much, to maneuver emergency vehicles.

Now, remember this: Even though you hear the blaring siren of the emergency vehicle coming up on you, don’t freak out. They are moving not much faster than you and they know that it takes a few seconds to merge so don’t do a hard left or right into the wall or you buddy there in the no. 3 lane.

Merge best you can and then, well, honestly, that’s when you’ll probably freak out but you can only go as far as you can. Each lane is about 12 feet in width and most cops are good drivers as are fire department personnel—mostly because they sit around the fire house playing Grand Theft Auto. 

What about car accidents?

I’m going out on a limb here but I predict there will be a fender-bender or two. Just putting it out there. There are about six cutaway spaces carved to the right of the Flex Lane between Holcomb Bridge Road and the MARTA Station.

If the car is drivable and you are not injured, move off the roadway and find one of the cutaways, called “Accident Investigation Sites.” Pull in there where there is plenty of room for you cars and you’re free to walk in circles and curse as loud as you want. We will have a large response truck parked in the area to respond to accidents to assist downed motorists off the roadway.

So, as if you’re patience isn’t thin enough already in the golden hours of drive time in the morning, we’re asking for a bit more.

Now, that being said, we will closely monitor this and quite frankly, I would be interested in your feedback to the Patch’s comments section or e-mail at srose@sandyspringsga.gov or @captsteverose on Twitter or a note stuck to my door with a knife. (I’ll take the latter as a hint that you’re not happy with it.)

At any rate, chill out. Dig your Enya CD out of the closet and play it between Holcomb Bridge Road and the MARTA Station. Get into some serious mellow on the drive in. If it works, keep on a playin' it.

Brian Oravetz May 07, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Okay, I'll bite. These lanes are a good idea in theory, but the reality as with most government laid plans; a terrible idea in practice. My bias in the matter is that I am one of the people that has to work hard to find my source of balance and enlightened peace as I merge into what will now be the "flex lane", trying to get off on Northridge in the afternoon. It is bad enough that we sit there, as far as a mile out; but then the entitled fly by that line and cut in at the last second. Throw these "flex lanes" into the mix, and the ever so professional and excellent officers of SSPD (I do mean that sincerely) will have their patience tried as conflicts and feats of engineering punishment take place. Your officers have a job to do; and I am curious to know what that job will look like for those of us who have to sit in the mediation line getting off on Northridge. I haven't had a ticket for a traffic violation since I was 17 years old (which was quite a number of years ago mind you...); I'm proud of that. It would be highly irritating for that streak to be broken because some politician had an idea.
Ron Sonshiba May 07, 2012 at 03:37 PM
As some who commutes from Northridge to 285 in the morning (at various times) I'm at loss to see why this was necessary. Traffic at 7:20 this morning was flowing nicely at around 45-50 mph and at other times and days it never takes more than 10 minutes to get to 285 from Northridge. This strikes me as silly tomfoolery that will only create greatere hazards, particularly for our public safety personell.
Mark Demidovich May 08, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Ron: The problems on GA 400 are mainly NORTH of Northridge. From Holcomb Bridge down to Northridge (the majority of this "flex lane" corridor), the average speed is about 25 mph in the morning rush hour. This additional lane will help bring those speeds up.
Kdan May 10, 2012 at 12:04 AM
I was under the impression that these lanes will only be available for the morning commute. What will happen to me if I use them in the afternoon? Will I only be glared at? As I am now? I think it's overall a pretty stupid idea, but hey, it beats a Pay per view lane, like 85! I sure am glad the governor is addressing the "Too many cars on the road" problem. Must be a square foot measurement.


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