Getting Around

By car

Atlanta ranks as one of the top cities in America when it comes to commute time. With three interstates (I-75, I-85, and I-20) meeting in downtown Atlanta, it’s not surprising.

I-20 moves east-west through Atlanta, and serves as the unofficial dividing line between the haves to the north and the have-nots to the south.

I-75 is known as the is known as the Northwest Expressway, and passes near Vinings, Smyrna, and Marietta as well as through Atlanta. I-85, the Northeast Expressway, passes near Brookhaven, Doraville, and Stone Mountain. I-75 and I-85 intersect near downtown at an area called the Downtown Connector. The Downtown Connector sees anywhere from 200,000 to over 300,000 vehicles a day. The widest part of the Downtown Connector has sixteen lanes of traffic.

I-285 circles around Atlanta, and is commonly called the Perimeter or Atlanta Bypass because it used to be the boundary of the Metropolitan Atlanta area. As the city has sprawled ever outwards, though, this designation has become anachronistic. It is very heavily travelled, and traffic can crawl to a stop during rush hour, but during lighter periods the top speeds are best described as relativistic. I-285 and I-85 intersect to the northeast in a section called Spaghetti Junction. To the northwest, it connects with I-75 in an area called Cobb Cloverleaf. The highway has anywhere from eight to twelve lanes. Heavy trucks traveling through Atlanta are required to use I-285 and not take I-75 or I-85 through the city.

Peachtree Street is considered Atlanta’s main drag. It runs from just south of downtown to just north of Buckhead, where it changes to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and eventually connects to I-285. There are literally hundreds of other streets in Atlanta containing the name Peachtree.

The Downtown Connector

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Usually just called the Atlanta Airport or Hartsfield Airport, this airport is the busiest passenger airport in the world with over 90 million passengers a year. It serves as a major hub for the southeastern United States, and is also a major gateway for international flights, with incoming and outgoing flights all over the world in 54 different countries.

The airport features six concourses (T, A, B, C, D, and E) and five runways, the newest of which extends over the I-285 expressway. Hartsfield also has its own MARTA rail station and an automated people mover that links the concourses. A new concourse will be added in 2011.

In addition to airline passengers, the airport handles a large amount of freight. It handles over 40,000 metric tons of cargo a month.


MARTA is the Metro Atlanta Transportation Authority, which runs bus and rail rapid-transit service throughout the city of Atlanta. Areas outside the I-285 perimeter largely refused MARTA access, fearing that it would allow vagrants and criminals easy access to their enclaves, and have only token attempts at public transportation that loosely work with MARTA.

The rail lines run east-west and north-south, with a northeast rail spur that splits at Lindbergh Station. The main north-south line follows State Highway 400, with the northeast split following I-85. The east-west rail line more or less follows I-20. The two rail lines intersect at Five Points.

By Rail

Atlanta has always been a city of the railroad, and has been described as the largest inland port of the world. There are multiple freight yards and intermodal (the freight containers that travel easily from ship to train to truck) hubs across Atlanta.

Amtrak reaches Atlanta at the Brookwood Station. From there, the train goes north to Washington, DC and New York City or south to New Orleans and Miami. About three hundred passengers arrive at or depart from the Brookwood Station daily.

Getting Around

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