From escaping the East Campus loop at 2:15 p.m. on a Wednesday to navigating downtown Athens traffic around 5 p.m. on a typical weekday, University of Georgia students are frustrated by the amount of traffic they deal with on a day-to-day basis.
In the last five years, traffic in Athens and on campus has encountered an increase, creating a need for additional traffic delegators on East Campus as well as traffic signal operations at primary intersections. Both are intended to accommodate the growing influx of cars traveling into and out of campus.
According to Athens-Clarke County Local Traffic Counts, the volume of traffic in particular areas such as U.S. 29 and College Station Road have experienced the most significant increase, which range in numbers from 1,000 to 4,000 vehicles in volume.
To combat this, ACC takes on corridor and traffic studies. As of May 2015, the city has applied this to the areas of Lexington Road and the Atlanta Highway corridors and hopes to maintain green space, attract new businesses and enhance traffic flow through the areas.
Rush hour in Athens is primarily confined to mornings, with peak traffic occurring between 7-8:30 a.m., according to geostat.org. During these periods, commuting time can last anywhere between five minutes and 34 minutes, with extended outliers reaching up to 90 minutes just within the confines of Athens. This can be attributed to the fact that upward of 8,000 people will be commuting at one time during those hours.
Mackenzi Costley, a sophomore biology major from Jackson, commutes to campus every day and must leave up to an hour before her classes begin to make it on time, even though on a good day, a typical drive is only 5 miles.
“In the mornings, [traffic] is backed all the way up College Station, and in the afternoons, it’s backed up on the ECV loop,” Costley said. “So in the afternoons when I’m trying to get home, it can be really hard because I’m leaving the school of music, and I’m forced to try and cut over into the left lane to get out of the loop, which is basically impossible.”
With a total enrollment of 37,606 students, only 33 percent of those enrolled live in college-owned operated or affiliated housing, according to U.S. News. That leaves approximately a total of 25,197 students who live in off-campus situations and must commute to campus during the school week.
Some students blame the traffic as being an unfortunate factor of attending such a vast, spread out university, while others correlated it to poor parking availability around campus.
“It’s hard to control a population of so many students, and the [traffic] is just one of the downsides of being on such a large campus,” said Kevin Nguyen, a sophomore computer science and mathematics double major from Jasper.
Nguyen commutes to campus but has no vehicle and must rely on a shuttle provided by his apartment complex to get to and from campus. When traveling between classes, however, he brings a skateboard since it tends to be faster than utilizing UGA buses, he said.
“I have to get onto the [apartment] bus at a certain time to get back to my complex,” Nguyen said. “Generally they have an alloted schedule to get to its stops, but they’re generally late by a few minutes, especially during the midday.”
Traffic also affects his apartment’s shuttle service.
“It can take upwards of an hour and 15 minutes, an hour and 30 minutes max, to get back home at the end of the day,” Nguyen said.
On the other hand, Carter Iddings, a junior theatre major from Dallas, Georgia, experiences the majority of his traffic issues on the north side of Athens.
“I experience traffic every day, but parking is the biggest problem people come to,” Iddings said. “Once you get onto campus, you’re going to be able to use the bus system, but it’s having to find a spot to park [that is the main issue]. I think if more parking opportunities were offered, traffic wouldn’t be nearly as bad.”
Another issue mentioned was pedestrian traffic, which can influence vehicular traffic as well.
“We could use more attendants directing traffic in certain areas because people are always walking out into the streets,” Costley said. “So cars are constantly having to stop for those people during major class changes.”
Others notice a specific time frame in which traffic is at its peak, with pedestrian traffic only enhancing the issue.
“I would say around 11 a.m.-3 p.m. it gets highly populated,” Nguyen said. “Traffic is pretty terrible to get around, to and from campus especially if there are people crossing on the crosswalks.”