Thursday, March 31, 2011

The roads in Cobb County (GA) are a mess!

What does this have to do with tennis?  Have you ever tried to find a tennis facility or neighborhood – that you’ve never been to before – for an ALTA match (e.g.) on a Saturday morning?  Perhaps you got lost and your opponent was a stickler about the match default time.  Too bad for you!

I’ve lived in many different parts of the country – the ‘left’ coast, the Northeast, the Midwest and now the South – as well as in several different counties within the Greater Atlanta Metropolitan Area and, by far, the most confusing non-logical nonsensical road layouts can be found in Cobb County, Georgia.
Many (most?) of the names of the roads change as one crosses through a major intersection, which is not uncommon in other parts of the country.  Local governments try to preserve a road’s original name while at the same time they seek new ways to honor some politician (be they dead or alive) by naming part of a road after them.  This gives a motorist the opportunity to travel 5 miles – ostensibly on the same road – while its name might change three times (or more) over the distance.  For locals who know where they are going, this isn’t usually a problem but, for those that don’t or (heaven forbid) a non-resident, it can be trying, to say the least.  When giving someone else directions, it can be challenging.  Oftentimes I find myself saying:  “I know how to get there, but I don’t know how to tell you how to do it”.  To my doubles partner, I recently described the route to take to get to an away match, but looked in ‘horror’ at the street sign as I drove the directions myself that morning and learned that the name of the cross street – where he was to turn – had changed at a previous intersection.  I knew where to turn, but wasn’t sure until he arrived at the match (a short time later) if we’d have to forfeit our match.

But perhaps the best examples of the dysfunctional roadway system in Cobb County, GA are Burnt Hickory and Lower Roswell Roads.  The former is in West Cobb while the latter is in East Cobb.  Neither of these roads travels in the same general direction for very long.  It’s as if the horse buggies that originally carved the ruts which became the roads were fed grain that had fermented a bit too long.  At some point, each of these roads travel for long stretches in an east-to-west direction (or vice versa) while in other parts of the county they provide a north-to-south route.  In fact, if one looks at a map (North at the top), Lower Roswell Rd. traces a path that looks roughly like a cup that would hold water while Burnt Hickory Rd. looks like a flatter version of that same cup turned upside down.  Worst still is that Burnt Hickory dead ends into Due West Rd. (another misnomer) in two different places about a third of mile apart such that one has to travel on Due West Rd. to continue on it.  One can tell another that’s “in the know” on which section of Burnt Hickory a particular subdivision can be found; for the clueless, good luck!  Eastbound Lower Roswell actually dead ends into Terrill Mill Rd before continuing North!  I much prefer cities and counties whose roads are more grid-like.

Of course, GPS devices have simplified the problem greatly and good preparation – looking at MapQuest – is always advised the day before a match in any case, but trying to “wing it” by assuming that a road heading west will essentially get you near where you want to go, or at least to the next major north-south road (with which you may be more familiar), can be a fool’s errand in Cobb County.

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