Publisher’s note: The following was published on April 1, 2017. Not coincidentally, this date is also commonly known as “April Fool’s Day”. The following piece is pure satire/fiction. No actual GDOT employees (or, more specifically their quotes) appear in this piece. We regret that we live in a world where this disclaimer is necessary, and as is our tradition, blame others.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has announced “Suburban Tourism For U,” a new local program for commuters in the Atlanta region effective immediately. GDOT spokesperson Natalie Dale, a former Auburn Cheerleader and Georgia’s reigning Brine Queen, gave details to reporters in front of a still smoldering section of I-85.
“Why try the same old freeways to go to and form work every single day?” Dale asked a gaggle of reporters in a presentation that was either spawned from a highly scripted, heavily focus-grouped campaign kickoff, or was something she and and GDOT Chief Engineer Meg Pickle made up on the fly to calm Atlanta’s panicking commuters after realizing that there really is no substitute for a 350′ span of elevated concrete used to support 250,000 cars per day. “We know that Atlanta commuters have a lot of questions about the highways they travel on, and we’re here to tell them about STFU!”
To jumpstart the marketing effort, GDOT will rename I-85 “The William T. Sherman Commemorative Highway,” with one section memorialized as “Winecoff Bridge.” GDOT’s plan will steer commuters away from their traditional routes to offices in Midtown and Buckhead, and instead guide them through different, more varied areas of the Atlanta region.
Dale, with a brave face similar to the one she donned during the 4th quarter of the 2008 Alabama-Auburn game, suggested motorists would enjoy new parts of often overlooked Georgia on their ways to and from work every day.
“GA 400 from Cumming to Midtown is really kind of monotonous when you think about it.” Dale said. “Why not just exit at Abernathy Road for a breakfast latte at Le Madeline on Perimeter Center West, then continue on down Ashford Dunwoody Road and begin that morning exercise program you’ve been meaning to take up at the Cowart YMCA. After a vigorous workout, head on down to Brookhaven for a tour of historic Oglethorpe College before arriving to your Buckhead office caffeinated, invigorated, and educated. And, maybe only 4-7 hours later than usual.
Learning about Atlanta’s history could make education a part of every metro Atlantan’s daily commute, Dale said. “The southern portion of DeKalb County has for too long been overlooked by Georgians who want to avoid pawn shops, weave stores and State Rep. Vernon Jones,” Dale said. “But DeKalb has changed so much and there’s lots and lots to see and learn about. Lots!”
Dale outlined a route where commuters could exit 85 south at Shallowford Road, turn left on Briarcliff, drive past the hemorrhaging money pit that is Northlake Mall, and continue on 285 south past the newly incorporated city of Tucker. “Tucker’s full of friendly faces everywhere, humble folks without temptation, ample parking day or night, and people shouting ‘Howdy, neighbor!’” said Dale. “And don’t forget Matthews Cafeteria!”
Traveling south on 285 will bring travelers close to Decatur, which has been ranked the “Least Masculine City in America” and is also the seat of DeKalb County “government”.
“Drivers could stop at the square, watch water bills not being sent out, business permits not being issued, and taxes being raised -all in about 15 minutes,” Dale said. “And there’s always the chance of seeing a sewer spill or some elected official being hauled off in handcuffs, which is ALWAYS a thrill.”
At the junction of I-20 and 285, Dale advised that motorists will never see any MARTA trains, and should turn east on I-20 toward the city of Atlanta.
“At Moreland and I-20, you’ll find dozens of interesting places, including the Earl, 529 Bar, Village Fitness and Village church,” said Dale. “Whether you’re looking for open-toed shoes, man-buns, or just a typical annoying crossfitter, East Atlanta has lots of different people who need a head-smack. Stop by and give them one!”
Despite the excited presentation, some in the crowd were skeptical.
“Look, it’s just me and my car, trying’ to get to work,” said Charles Haddock, who travels from Lawrenceville to an office at Colony Square every weekday. “Those roads was paid for a long time ago -by MY taxes- so they’re basically free, and I shouldn’t have to drive past Sweat Mountain to go to Midtown.”
Haddock said he would consider using MARTA, but that he wouldn’t like it.
Dale reminded Haddock that those that had to live through Re-Construction after Sherman burned Atlanta didn’t like it that much either, and added “bless your heart.”
GDOT is still working to get those who prefer to use their usual routes on Ga-400 from North Fulton and I-85 inbound from Gwinnett to get IHG Rewards Points from Atlanta based Intercontinental Hotels, as their round trip commutes will likely equate to a night’s stay in an Atlanta hotel, but with no vending machines at the end of the hall.