There are many factors for an employer to consider when choosing a location for their company’s office space. An unexpected primary driver for this decision is the employee commute.
One of the big challenges facing Atlanta’s economic development is its lack of infrastructure. Inadequate public transportation, limited roadway capacity and extremely busy interstates can make getting to work difficult for any employee.
In many other cities people wouldn’t hesitate to walk to work, or hop on the nearest bus or train. However the culture and lack of pedestrian friendly walkways in Atlanta means that more often than not, people will drive despite the terrible traffic conditions. That is a fact that employers deciding where to locate must factor in. In-depth knowledge of this circumstance allows Cresa to work with employers in order to find the best spot for their business to thrive.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s 2011 Urban Mobility Report, Atlanta residents top the charts for the longest peak-period travel time at an average 127 minutes per day. At about an hour each way, that amounts to 635 minutes a week. More than 10 hours weekly amounts to almost 22 days a year Atlanta employees spend in a car driving to work!
City intersections such as The Buckhead Loop at Piedmont and 14th Street at Peachtree are highly congested. Many intersections on the Interstate give daily drivers trouble as well. I-285 at I-400, I-285 at I-85, I-285 at I-75, and the downtown connector in general have typically been challenging for employees in the Metro area.
Cresa Atlanta understands that traffic is a factor of life and exerts tremendous effort to help our clients combat this issue. In most cases, our Advisors will map out all of the employee residences and attempt to pinpoint office locations that will minimize their cumulative commute.
Recently however, city leaders have also recognized these issues, and attempts have been made to alleviate the congestion. Last year, a bill known to residents as TSPLOST was defeated. The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum was set to fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional 1% sales tax. While the defeat may have been slightly disappointing for commuters, other projects have since been set up through alternate funding methods.
For example, The Perimeter Community Improvement Districts (CID) initiated a $6 million Diverging Diamond Interchange at the I-285 Ashford/Dunwoody exit. This innovative design actually shifted traffic flow to opposite sides of the road to reduce points of traffic conflict. So far it seems to be working. The Georgia Department of Transportation is planning to build I-75/I-575 toll lanes. If people are required to pay for entry onto a particular road, it may motivate them to find alternate routes thus significantly cutting down on congestion.
While many projects may have a positive effect on inner-city traffic, some may have negative consequences as well. The State also plans to remove the tollbooth at GA-400 and I-285 which experts believe could result in up to a 30% increase in traffic! The Advisors at Cresa Atlanta track these proposed projects regularly in order to provide real-time guidance to our clients. Acknowledging that the traffic is a major concern to Atlanta employees and understanding the effects of ongoing/future construction projects will help our clients make wise long term location decisions.
Blog Contributed by David J. Rubenstein, Cresa Atlanta, Principal