Is this road study for real: Georgia No. 1?

They can’t be driving on the same roads I am. Can they?

A new study says Georgia’s highways are the nation’s best, AJC reporter Bill Torpy writes.

Are they kidding?

“A lot of the answer is the age of the roads,” Phineas Baxandall, a senior analyst at U.S. Public Interest Researh Group, which conducted the survey, told Torpy.

“Georgia’s road stock is relatively new.,” he said. “It takes a while to deteriorate. So Georgians are enjoying that ‘new-car smell’ with their roads.”

I have never experienced a “new-car smell” on our roads — not 20 years ago when I moved here, not now and not anytime in between. I’m dodging potholes all the time — even on the highways.

What do you make of this survey?

Also, you can alert Bill Torpy to the locations of the biggest potholes and most bone-jarring roads on your commute by e-mailing him: He’s planning a follow-up story. Thanks.

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

46 comments Add your comment


April 28th, 2010
7:22 am

If you have driven much in other parts of the country you can appreciate how good our roads are. We don’t get freezing and salt damage as in the northern states and if you have ever experienced the washboards that pass for roads (both pre and post Katrina) in south Louisiana you would not mind a few potholes! I have driven at least a little in about 30 states in the past couple of years and believe me, Georgia’s roads are good.


April 28th, 2010
7:41 am

We have some great roads like Corridor Z and the new bypasses around many of the county seats off US 19, US 441 and others. This is killing the economy of the small rural areas. There are still many places on I-75 that have the old cement base that will beat you to death probably because of the use of the inside lanes by the big trucks. Otherwise they are good. But the cost to the economy of the rural areas of Georgia has been great to the benefit of passers through and the larger communities in the state.


April 28th, 2010
7:58 am

We sure experience that “new-tar” smell often enough. Seems they’re always repaving. But it just shows how bad the roads are in other states; not how good ours are. But hey, you have to give the DOT an ‘A’ for effort. Locally I’ve noticed an increase in potholes recently.

James Ayton

April 28th, 2010
8:05 am

Gotta agree with the study, Unger. Like the others have said, take a drive through other states. The traffic here is terrible, but the quality of the roads is top notch.


April 28th, 2010
8:06 am

Yes, we have potholes, particularly on city streets. But, take a drive on the roads in any other state and you will appreciate just how good ours are. Particularly the major U.S. and state highways. Georgia’s roads are the best by far in the SE (where I do most of my driving), and better than the roads I have limited experience with in other regions of the country.


April 28th, 2010
8:08 am

So THAT’S where our tax money goes! The state doesn’t support arts, culture, museums, public transportation, or any number of other worthy causes, but we’ve got the best roads in the country!


April 28th, 2010
8:13 am

I agree where were they driving? GA’s roads are not the best and please if it snowed down here OMG! The road in Amherst, NY are better, Main St, Dover, Maine, are better than GA, for those of you who don’t know those are two snow belts! The roads are good, but they can do better, have you drove downtown lately? Pothole City!

On the road again...

April 28th, 2010
8:13 am

Lived in GA all my life, but have traveled in plenty of other states/countries. YES Ga has very good road conditions compared to other places. However, traffic is HORRENDOUS, and the mass transit option a laughing stock.
The powers that be should have study mass transit (i.e) train systems in cities like Chicago, New York, Boston, D.C., London, and Paris. I’ve traveled all of these, and they are a great alternative to getting behind the wheel. It’s pretty much impossible to live in Atlanta or a nearby town (Roswell, Dunwoody, Stone Mnt, Marietta, Jonesboro, etc) without HAVING TO OWN A CAR! That’s sad! Atlanta wants to believe it’s some thriving metropolis … keep dreaming.

Bob Dylan

April 28th, 2010
8:36 am

Maybe the Tarmac is new, but Georgia roads leave much to be desired. Disgusting billboards jammed packed and at every elevation possible welcome all travelers to the trash rich Georgia roads. The entire population spends their lives eating at drive-thrus and then throwing their chicken boxes and big gulps on the side of the road. The highways are filled with truck tire recap remnants (gatorbacks) that could cause serious injury if run over, or fliped onto a car or motorcyclist. GEORGIA HAS CRAP ROADS and they charge me 1500/year for the tags to drive on them.

Roads not education

April 28th, 2010
8:39 am

So let me get this straight. We have the best roads and the worst education. Way to go Sonny and the rest of you pro developer politicians. Thats the way to spend our tax dollars and put roadways over education of our youth. I guess the thought is that the roads lead to the future but our kids will end up repairing the roads later on in life. Great planning for ensuring that the children of today will have jobs for the future. I am sure glad that this is an election year. It’s time to begin to REPLACE every single person under the Gold Dome with persons who understand, respect and fight for what we the people of this state need. And while on the subject of politics, what happened to ethics reform and keeping the lobbyists in check? Oh thats right, this is an election year and their dollars are needed to fund campaigns so that when elected (or re-elected) you can repay the ‘favors’ with government contracts for ROADS!

What a state…what a disgrace!


April 28th, 2010
8:47 am

Best roads? Where? they Must didn’t come to DeKalb County!


April 28th, 2010
9:01 am

“If you have driven much in other parts of the country you can appreciate how good our roads are”

Yeah, this. Apparently the blogger hasn’t actually driven in another state in the last 20 years; our roads are definitely better than most. And “dodging potholes all the time” is sensationalist crap; we have potholes, but show me a place with high traffic volume that doesn’t.

I just wish that our construction projects would progress faster than a snail’s pace. How long did it take to build that bridge on S Atlanta road, 2-3 years?


April 28th, 2010
9:06 am

Roads are great. No doubt. Go up north they are filling holes all the time. This may sound strange. I wish they had holes here. The tailgater’s in Atlanta are horrid. The tailgate law is never enforced. It is rude it is illegal and it is very dangerous to tailgate. Some holes might slow them down.


April 28th, 2010
9:14 am

If we hv the best roads in the country I pity the poor saps in all 49 other states. I guess that the people doing this study did not travel I-75 between Macon and Valdosta which has been under construction for my entire lifetime (52 yrs). I remember as a kid driving to FL and always seeing construction on that stretch and each summer now it is still going on. How can we have the best roads when we can’t even get them finished?! Next time you are heading to or from FL, compare I-75 in FL to I-75 in GA.


April 28th, 2010
9:21 am

Those who ride sportbikes know how good our roads are, and being twisty helps too. :)


April 28th, 2010
9:24 am

Maybe this is true in outlying areas but Atlanta has terrible roads. The condition of the roads with the wear & tear and numerous potholes would make one think that Atlanta has terrible winters with many ice storms. The roads in Atlanta are a joke.


April 28th, 2010
9:29 am


April 28th, 2010
9:31 am

coming from a different part of the country I agree completely. I was amazed when they repaved the downtown connector when it apeared fine to me. Back home an interstate wasn’t redone until the ruts became downright dangerous.


April 28th, 2010
9:35 am

Absolutely. As someone who has driven in 30 of our 50 states over the last three years, I can absolutely attest that the road surfaces in Georgia are the best. We do have a lot of congestion on Atlanta Interstates and there are pronounced potholes on some Atlanta surface streets but taken as a whole Georgia highways are in great shape. I have driven in the past month on I-75 from Cartersville to the Florida line, I-185 between LaGrange nd Columbus, I-85 between Newnan and the Alabama line, U.S. 411 from Rome to Cartersville, U.S. 27 from Rome to LaGrange. U.S. 19 between Albany and the Florida line and the Corrider Z route from Tifton to Columbus to name a few. With the exception of the areas of I-75 in which highway construction either is underway or is under contract, the roads were in great shape. I don’t underatand how Alabama is on the list. I-85 is a good highway in Alabama but I-20 and I-59 are terrible.

James Ayton

April 28th, 2010
9:37 am

@American & @T, driving “Downtown” anywhere was not included in the study. Did you guys even read the article?

Matt the Brave

April 28th, 2010
9:44 am

Hey Bob Dylan, if you don’t like the taxes on your car, trade it for something that doesn’t get charged as much. Duh!

Matt the Brave

April 28th, 2010
9:46 am

Oh, and in terms of highways, yes, we do have some of the best in the nation, except in the cesspool that is downtown. Again, whoever decided that merging two major interstates together even for a few miles was insane. But once you get out of Atlanta proper and into the suburbs or country, the highway is a real easy drive.

Chris Salzmann

April 28th, 2010
9:51 am

Of course roads in GA are better!! It would be more ACCURATE to say that roads in RURAL GA are better because that’s where all the taxes generated by Atlanta go when it comes to improving roads. In Atlanta, MARTA has to cut services and unlike other states, receives absolutely no financial support from the state because the rural GA politicians are busy spending on THEIR roads and letting Atlanta rot.

That pretty much sums up the situation!!!

David C

April 28th, 2010
9:53 am

Drive the roads of southern Ohio just one day and you will be thankful of Georgia roads. I’ve been here almost a year and hit 1000 potholes. You wouldn’t believe how much better Ga. roads are until you experience driving in other states. Maybe Georgia has a bad street here or there but bad roads are the norm here. Be thankful for what you have.


April 28th, 2010
9:57 am

Our roads are good compared to other parts of the country. There are always exceptions and certain poorly managed counties are worse than others. But really… have you driven in the snow states? This is one thing we can be happy about for Georgia. Now let’s work on education!… and jobs!


April 28th, 2010
10:08 am



April 28th, 2010
10:20 am

I agree with all who have stated that driving out of state makes you appreciate Georgia’s roads just that much more. Sure, we have traffic congestion, but name me a high-growth Sunbelt metro area that doesn’t. Our highways are in the best condition, hands down. I’ve also driven in over thirty states, so I think I can say this with authority. I’m with John in how Alabama made the list. Their Interstates are less than desirable, and some of their US highways are downright sad.

JC in Powder Springs

April 28th, 2010
10:20 am

Yes, rural highways are very good in GA. Urban traffic is a nightmare. With all the overgrown weeds and billboards, I’d find it hard to believe any state has uglier highways than GA.


April 28th, 2010
10:26 am

Mr. Unger, have you ever driven outside of Georgia?


April 28th, 2010
10:34 am

I think this also speaks volumes to the power of the transportation (paving) lobby in the state. Also as some have mentioned the power of the GA government to channel funds from metro atlanta to rural politically connected counties. Don’t get me started on rural development highways (build it and they will come). Somehow, we can’t afford to invest in other forms of transportation, MARTA remains the largest system in the country with no state support – yet, we have the best road (rural) system in the U.S.? I think this just shows how out of whack GA priorities and politics has become.

John in Cumming

April 28th, 2010
10:36 am

Roads in GA are top notch. Try driving the PA turnpike, or I-81 in VA or NY roads, NH, Roads in MS, LA (lower Alabama) and parts of KY & TN are horrendous. Our roads drain fairly well, they don’t have all the ruts that most roads have, and you can just “feel” it.

Worst I’ve seen is I-20 around Anniston, AL (unless they’ve fixed it). In fact that whole stretch of I-20 in AL might be the worst. There are so many “alligator tires” laying around it’s awful.
The most dangerous is the PA Turnpike b/c the roads are bumpy, there is really no median, except the wall, no shoulder or emergency lane either-


April 28th, 2010
10:49 am

I agree with John in Cumming – You don’t realize how good you have it unless you are from the Northeast….


April 28th, 2010
10:59 am

I’m a Georgia resident living in West Virgina, and when I have to drive up to New Jersey through highway 78, it made me realize how much I missed 75, 85 and 285! Those roads are so terrible! Concrete dividers everywhere. Its like its always going to be under construction!


April 28th, 2010
11:01 am

I don’t get the criticism of rural roads. The vast majority of Georgia’s land area like that of most states is in the rural area. Those rural Interstates and 4-lane major highways are the roads that Georgians, including metro Atlantans, and out of state travelers take when they are traveling through our state on business and for vacations. Everybody benefits from those roads.

Georgia easily #1!

April 28th, 2010
11:01 am

It’s not even close! Georgia easily has the best roads. The Northern states have the problems of freezing grounds, snow blades, etc. that wreak havoc on asphalt and concrete surfaces. But mostly Georgia has very mild winters (With the exception of White, Rabun and Union counties) when was the last snow measuring over 6 to 8 inches??? The blizzard of 1993. When was the last really cold winter? We all complained about this years winter but notice we did not have a single day where the high temp for the day was 20 degrees or lower. Haven’t had those types of winters since the mid-1980’s when they were typical for North Georgia! Anyone remember January 1985 when the low temperature even for metro Atlanta was -10 degrees? NOT windchill but actual! Windchills put it at -45 degrees! IN ATLANTA! It was common for some northern school districts to close for extended very cold fronts (high’s not over 15 degrees and lows that were 0 degrees or lower) in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

No Bad Weather = Equates to very good roads! Plus we pay enough taxes to keep them maintained unlike our sister state South Carolina whose roads are horrendous for the South.


April 28th, 2010
11:02 am

there are two weather seasons in Chicago: Winter and road repair…..Unger your wrong on this one.


April 28th, 2010
11:03 am

The survey was strickly looking at highways, so Yes, the survey is correct. City streets are a different story, but that wasn’t the subject of the survey. Was just in Boston this weekend and the highways/roads there were pretty bad, but then it is Boston; America’s version of a Eurotrash city.

Legend of Len Barker

April 28th, 2010
11:27 am

Warning: If you take away our highway funding in rural Georgia, we’re bringing back Ludowici. We’re going to get your money some way.

I have not been to many states in my lifetime, but South Carolina’s roads are 10 times worse than this. North Carolina was only slightly better than that.

Fatty McBuffett

April 28th, 2010
11:33 am

You sir are an Imbecile. What a stupid article.


April 28th, 2010
11:35 am

I’m glad voices of reason are winning this debate. Like others who do a lot of driving, I can personally attest that Georgia has the best roads. Louisiana is by far the worst — swamps make for bad footing. Alabama roads are good, but I-59 near Gadsden is awful.

Of course, the typical haters are on here complaining about everything else, but as for the quality of the roads, Georgia is #1.

Ramblin Man

April 28th, 2010
11:45 am

Here is an article written by a Jack@ss looking for something to gripe about……let me guess……from Jersey or the Boston area?

We didn’t even need to be told our highways are great…..we already knew.

Voice of Reason

April 28th, 2010
11:58 am

“American” – You must be a complete ignoramus if you think roads in the NE are great! My goodness person, a toll booth every 5 miles, $15 tolls, where does the money go because it sure doesn’t go to improve the highways. Maybe not the worst I have ever been on, but close. You have no clue what you are talking about!
I have been over much of this country in an automobile, and I will say without doubt, the best highways are in Georgia. For those of you who are so critical, you have the freedom to leave.

Lost in the North

April 28th, 2010
12:34 pm

I moved to Massachusetts and my car still hasn’t forgiven me. I feel bad for it just driving around town, but hate even more biking around. I have most of the major potholes memorized, so I can perform my choreographed routine of dodging them all on my way into work, but it’s far worse than what I had to deal with in Atlanta. Plus, at least we have a logical method for identifying exits. Both CA and MA have silly methods of either sequential counting or no number at all, so it’s easy to get lost and miss it. Plus nothing is ever labeled in advance. I never would have guessed I’d miss GA for it’s highways, but man do I ever.


April 28th, 2010
2:25 pm

Luisiana destroyed my rental car. Kentucky and OH put my truck out of alignment.

GA does have one of the best roads, not counting the stretch of 75 that is concrete and some legs of 285


April 28th, 2010
7:06 pm

the highways are some of the best but we lag behind in everthing else..Atlanta wants to be a cosmopolitan world class city but its subway system stinks and needs to be expanded…


September 7th, 2010
8:20 am

Ga.used to have the best,but after driving through Alabama this weekend,Georgia looks like a third world country.Nobody mows the weeds,picks up the trash,or keeps the grass out of the asphalt.They need to draft Tom Moreland to get the dot back in shape.