Traffic Management for the Big Game
An Interview with Liz Johnson and Rob Ross
How did you start working with the City of Atlanta on the traffic management plan for the big game?
It all started in the fall of 2017 when Kimley-Horn worked on the Downtown Transportation Master Plan with Central Atlanta Progress—the Community Improvement District for Downtown Atlanta. As part of the Transportation Master Plan, we helped develop a new approach to event traffic management in preparation for the College Football National Championship game in January 2018. Prior to 2017, traffic signals were set in flash for Georgia Dome events which could cause egress to take hours! We were successful in convincing the Atlanta Police Department to trust the traffic signals, which opened the door for our operations team to develop new signal timing patterns for special events. After developing the signal timings, we continued to actively manage traffic from a command center for every Mercedes-Benz Stadium event through our Regional Traffic Operations Program (RTOP) contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT).
When did work on the traffic management plan begin?
Preparations specific to the big game began in April 2018, but we really started to roll up our sleeves during the fall once we had more information regarding the necessary road closures and schedule of events.
How is your team helping the City of Atlanta prepare for the big game?
Our team is primarily supporting the Host Committee and the Atlanta PD with transportation preparation. We’ve helped coordinate road closures and obtained the necessary permits, worked with the police officers to determine the intersections that need police presence for vehicular and pedestrian movements, and developed “post orders” that explain an officer’s roles and responsibilities at each intersection.
The traffic operations team is working on special signal timing plans for the different events that occur throughout the week and will be actively managing traffic from the GDOT Traffic Management Center for game day and the week leading up to the game.
Are you coordinating with other agencies as well (Atlanta Police Department, MARTA, etc.)?
It’s a group effort. We’ve been coordinating with countless agencies such as Atlanta PD, MARTA, GDOT, City of Atlanta Department of Public Works, Georgia World Congress Center (GWCC), the Atlanta Falcons, the Atlanta Hawks, and Central Atlanta Progress. We’ve also been working closely with SP+ Gameday, a transport logistics company, and Populous, the architect responsible for stadium events.
Have you worked on similar projects in the past?
We started working with the Atlanta Braves in 2013 once they decided to construct a new stadium (SunTrust Park) with an associated mixed-use development (The Battery Atlanta) for Opening Day 2017. We worked with the organization from the early planning stages to the actual implementation and execution of the transportation management plan.
Once the new stadium was up and running successfully, we rolled right into the Downtown Atlanta Special Events planning as part of the Downtown Transportation Master Plan. That plan was completed by the end of 2017, but we’ve continued to work with Mercedes-Benz Stadium and State Farm Arena (formerly Philips Arena) to tweak and improve their plans.
Will you and your team be working on game day?
Of course! Members of our team will be working each day that official events are held, from Saturday January 26th through Sunday February 3rd! Game day will be a particularly long day for our team as we will have people in multiple command centers as well as boots on the ground throughout the city.
Do you have any advice for those traveling to the game?
Ride MARTA! Come early and stay late to enjoy the festivities! Parking will be much more limited than a typical game or event, so we recommend that you plan ahead of time if you are coming downtown.
Learn more about our game-changing approach to special-event traffic management and Kimley-Horn’s role in helping the City of Atlanta prepare for the big game.