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Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia DOT, the State Transportation Board, and local leaders broke ground on September 17 for the Northwest Corridor (NWC) Georgia Express Lanes project. The long-awaited project will bring new mobility to this congested corridor by adding nearly 30 miles of reversible managed lanes alongside I-75 and I-575 motorists.

“The Northwest Corridor project is a critical addition to Georgia’s interstate highway system, providing a reprieve for congestion on two of the state’s busiest thoroughfares,” said Deal. “This project will create new commute options for motorists and boost our state’s economic development efforts, as maintaining a strong transportation system is a key component to attracting new business to the state.”

The NWC Express Lanes give travelers a means of bypassing traffic, whether they choose to pay a toll, ride in a carpool or vanpool, or take transit services. Either way, the new, dedicated Georgia Express Lanes add an innovative alternative to our existing roads.

For more information on the Northwest Corridor project, visit www.dot.ga.gov/expresslanes. And to learn how you can take advantage of moving through traffic quickly and easily on a carpool, vanpool, or bus, click here.

Jenny Schultz is a Communications Specialist working on the Georgia Commute Options program. When she's not at work, she spends most of her time baking, dancing, and pretending to paint her house. Jenny has a pretty sweet telework space compete with Ikea furniture, a stability ball, and a fantastic view of her backyard.



When you suffer through a really long commute every day, you eventually have to face the inevitable: Moving into the office is the only solution. Just think about it: An extra hour of sleep, quick access to your desktop if you need it in off hours, a commute that amounts to only steps. If you think this sounds too good to be true, read on—we’ll give you the tips for making your office-home space as cozy as possible.

  1. Pick a good sleeping spot. The obvious choice is underneath your own desk; it’s already your designated space in the office, and it can offer a little bit of privacy. But if you’d like to spread out more, stake out the conference rooms and communal spaces for the real king-sized experience. Wake up refreshed and ready to work!
  2. Get some shade. Some offices leave the lights on all night and won’t be willing to make a change. But you can still get a good night’s sleep in the dark—just find a reliable sleep mask and it’ll be lights-out at your say so. A good night’s sleep makes for a productive work day.
  3. Master the sink bath. If your office doesn’t have on-site shower facilities, you’ll have to get creative when it comes to bathing in the morning. Fortunately, a quick spritz in the bathroom sink can get you feeling refreshed in no time. Pro tip: Aim for early hours, before the office gets crowded. Also: You may want to barricade the door. You’ll work best when you feel properly groomed.
  4. Set a curfew. Obviously, once your coworkers spy your sweet office-home setup, they’re all going to want to follow your example. That can result in some conflict, as different sleep schedules and styles come to light. The best way to maintain harmony is to establish a “lights out” time (or just a “everybody be quiet” time, if you’re in one of those offices where the lights stay on) so that everyone knows when to stop the chatter. After all, you don’t want after-hours strife to bleed into workday interactions.

It takes some getting used to, but with the right tips, there’s no reason why your office can’t make for a comfortable living space that lets you avoid the nasty commute entirely.

OR….

Like the idea of ditching the commute but can’t quite commit to the office-home lifestyle? Here’s an option for you: Try Telework. Get that extra hour of sleep — in your own bed. Commute a few steps to your workspace. Turn the lights out whenever you want.

PLUS, you’ll be avoiding traffic and doing your part to get cars off the road. Learn more about the benefits of teleworking here!

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. As a car-free Atlantan, she knows how to get creative when getting from A to B — and she’s eager to help other commuters discover their non-driving potential. Lesley’s previous credits include ad copywriting, editing, blogging and youth outreach.



Sure, working from home sounds way better than fighting traffic every day—but how does telework actually work? What tools are out there to help the home-based workers stay connected, productive and generally awesome? Luckily, there are scores of mobile apps designed to help you do just that. Here are five of our favorites.

  1. iJobber: Worried about staying on task when you’re working at home? Want a better way to break up your day? Meet iJobber. Manage your time by setting the clock for each task on your list. You can keep notes on each task, add labels to classify different projects, and keep statistics on your work time that you can export to email, your work calendar or Twitter for later reference — and for accountability with the boss. $0.99 on iTunes. (Sorry, Droid users; this one’s only available for iOS at the moment.)
  2. MagicConnect: Need to access your work desktop while away from the office? MagicConnect lets you do it from your mobile device. No worries about losing continuity — just log in and get to work as usual (albeit on a much smaller screen). Free on iTunes and Google Play.
  3. iTelework: With the recent federal push toward making teleworking the norm, government employees might need help navigating all the rules and regulations on record. That’s where iTelework comes in. Designed to help federal employees determine their telework eligibility under federal law, this app includes important references and information — as well as a task list feature and carbon footprint calculator. $0.99 on iTunes only.
  4. Worksnug: Prefer to telework someplace other than your living room, but not sure where to plug in? Worksnug can help you find laptop-friendly environments in your vicinity. Search your neighborhood for the best coffee shops and coworking spaces around—and even leave reviews and recommendations of your favorite work haunts. It’s like Yelp for teleworkers! And it’s available for every type of mobile device — for free.
  5. Basically all of Google: So, yeah, they’re on their way to world domination, and maybe that’s a little troubling. But if they make life this easy, would we really mind that much? Google can do everything. Using Google Docs, you can create documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations that live online and save automatically. That means you don’t have to keep a flash drive or email files back and forth between home and work computers—you can access your work from any internet connection. You can also share those documents with multiple coworkers, and everyone can edit them in real time. And once you’re ready to take them off the Cloud, you can download them as regular Microsoft Office documents, no sweat. In addition to the docs, Google calendar can be synced to your mobile device and can give you reminders of your tasks and appointments. And good old Gchat can keep you connected with your team throughout the day—even through video chat if you need face-to-face time. It’s so much more than a search engine, folks.

Technology is an essential part of any good telework plan. Find the apps and systems that’ll work best for you, then telework like a boss!

(Got a favorite app we didn’t mention? Tell us about it in the comments!)

Lesley Carter is a communications specialist and the voice of Georgia Commute Options social media. As a car-free Atlantan, she knows how to get creative when getting from A to B — and she’s eager to help other commuters discover their non-driving potential. Lesley’s previous credits include ad copywriting, editing, blogging and youth outreach.



On Monday, September 15, Georgia Commute Options and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce hosted a Transportation Breakfast to kick off Georgia Telework Week. In case you missed it, here's a brief recap:

  • Panelists from UCB Pharmaceuticals, MARTA, and the Georgia DOT spoke about how their telework programs benefit their employees, managers and bottom lines, and discussed how their programs are doing today.
  • Georgia Commute Options lived tweeted the panel discussion. To look back, check out our Twitter feed.
  • Cobb DOT and Croy Engineering spoke about the Cobb SPLOST and directed attendees to the best places to find information about the slated projects.

We are mid-way through the fifth annual Georgia Telework Week. But you haven't missed your chance to Commit to Telework Week and get featured in our October 3 Atlanta Business Chronicle ad. Click here to do it now.

Georgia Commute Options promotes the use of alternatives to driving alone to and from work, like teleworking. You can learn more about the activities occurring during the fifth annual Georgia Telework Week here. To get in touch with a Georgia Commute Options representative to learn more about how to get a telework program started at your workplace, please click here.



To celebrate Georgia Telework Week (September 15-19), Midtown Transportation - one of the organizations that helps deliver Georgia Commute Options - conducted a Q&A session with Liz the teleworker.

Midtown Transportation: How often do you work from home a week?
Liz: At least 3 days a week.

MT: What is the biggest benefit about teleworking?
Liz: Avoiding traffic and drive time, which also means I gain at least an hour of total working time per day without lengthening my work day.

MT: How important is this flexibility to you if you were to look for a different job?
Liz: Not having the option to telecommute would be a deciding factor for me.

MT: Do you have any tips for new teleworkers?
Liz: My advice for those who wish to telecommute: use the tools available at GaCommuteOptions.com to build a proposal for telecommuting. I did so and presented it to my employer over 5 years ago. It helped us both to understand the process and benefits. For those who are new to teleworking, set a timer to manage your time spent on various tasks. This will not only keep you from being distracted, but will also remind you to get up and stretch your legs during the day. And try to have a separate space in your home for work.

MT: If you do not work from your home all the time, where is your favorite place to work remotely?
Liz: The beach! All kidding aside, I can work from anywhere, increasing flexibility even more so. Teleworking pushed our company in the right direction to set up the technological tools we needed to not only work from our desks at home, and on the go as well.

MT: Do you have any interesting/funny stories that happened while you were teleworking?
Liz: Definitely not funny, but several neighbors and friends were stuck on the highway during the two snow storms earlier this year - some all night. Because we were teleworking, not only did my coworkers and I avoid being stranded, but our work day continued as normal with all of our out-of-town clients.

Thank you, Liz, for being an awesome advocate for teleworking! And thank you to the folks at Midtown Transportation for helping us put this piece together. 

Do you want to tell your commuting stories on the Georgia Commute Options blog? Email us here to find out how.



Teleworking can have immediate impacts on our environment, air quality, and commuter mobility, reducing vehicle emissions and strain on existing infrastructure. On August 7th, Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed this week, September 15-19, as the fifth annual Georgia Telework Week. Thank you to our valued and committed partners who joined us for the proclamation signing.

(Pictured from left to right: Allison Little - UCB Pharmaceuticals, Trent Williamson - Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Sean Saffle - Georgia Commute Options, Keith Parker - MARTA, Governor Nathan Deal, Toby Carr - Georgia DOT, Allie Velleca - Georgia Commute Options, and Cam Yearty - Georgia DOT)

The potential growth for teleworking in our region is tremendous. On average, teleworkers report better work and life balance as well as higher job satisfication rates than other employees. Additionally, formal telework programs play a key role in business continuity, allowing businesses to continue should an unforeseen event occur. Metro businesses can save money as a result of lower facility and energy costs, more productivity from their workforce, reduced absenteeism, and increased recruitment and retention.

During Telework Week, we ask for Metro Atlanta employers to commit their support of teleworking. Those who sign their commitment to the recognition week will see their company name in an Atlanta Business Chronicle ad on October 3. 

Georgia Commute Options promotes the use of alternatives to driving alone to and from work, like teleworking. You can learn more about the activities occurring during the fifth annual Georgia Telework Week here. To get in touch with a Georgia Commute Options representative to learn more about how to get a telework program started at your workplace, please click here.



As the fifth annual Georgia Telework Week (September 15-19) comes up on us, we look to recognize true advocates of the expanded use of commute options and flexible work scheduling. The Georgia CommuteSmart initiative comes from an Executive Order from Governor Nathan Deal’s office and encourages Georgia Commute Options mission.

State agencies, as well as other private sector businesses, have seen dramatic savings from implementing a telework program. In its first year of the new initiative, the Board of Pardons and Paroles reduced its office space from 43 locations to nine, resulting in $1.5 million in savings.

To learn more about how to impact your bottom line, visit GaCommuteOptions.com/telework. And while you’re there, commit your support of Georgia Telework Week and see your company name in an Atlanta Business Chronicle ad on October 3.

Jenny Schultz is a Communications Specialist working on the Georgia Commute Options program. When she's not at work, she spends most of her time baking, dancing, and pretending to paint her house. Jenny has a pretty sweet telework space compete with Ikea furniture, a stability ball, and a fantastic view of her backyard.

To connect with Jenny, click here.



It's a fun, free competition where workplaces compete to see who can get the most people riding a bike.

Recruit coworkers to ride a bike to climb up the leaderboard and win the Challenge. People only need to cycle for 10 minutes or more! It’s easy and fun! The Atlanta Bike Challenge runs from September 28-October 19. To learn more and sign up, visit ATLBikeChallenge.com.



New transportation options are on the horizon for Atlanta commuters. This fall, the Georgia Department of Transportation will start construction on two significant Georgia Express Lanes projects which will add optional toll lanes alongside existing interstates. These new lanes will provide a choice for drivers to pay a toll to bypass congestion when they desire, offer a clear path for transit and registered vanpool operators and add an alternative to the roads that exist today.

  • I-75 South Metro Express Lanes will stretch across 12 miles in Clayton and Henry counties from SR 155/McDonough Road ending at SR 38/Stockbridge Highway. The project is anticipated to open to traffic in winter 2017.
  • Northwest Corridor Express Lanes will serve Cobb and Cherokee counties with almost 30 miles of express lanes being added along I-75 from Akers Mill Road to Hickory Grove Road and along I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road. Planned completion for this project is summer 2018. 

These lanes will be reversible, flowing into the city during the morning peak and away from the city during the evening rush hour. Georgia Express Lanes will rely on variable toll rates that increase during peak travel times and decrease during off-peak times. This means more reliable trip times for those using the express lanes.

And there is great news for people using transit or who are part of a registered vanpool. These vehicles will travel in the lanes for free offering their customers more consistent travel times.
 
During construction and implementation of the Express Lanes projects don’t forget that, Georgia Commute Options can help you find alternative transportation choices to keep you moving. Every commuter sharing the ride equals one less car on the road — and there are more options than you think. Carpooling, vanpooling, riding transit, biking, walking, and teleworking are great alternatives to riding alone.

Looking for more info on GDOT’s Georgia Express Lanes? Find regularly updated FAQs and details on the impact to your commute here. Plus, once construction begins, 511 — a free service that provides real-time travel information statewide and allows callers to report incidents 24/7 is a useful tool to help navigate our way to a less congested Atlanta.

Amanda Godo is a Communications Specialist for Georgia Commute Options. As a commuter and regular teleworker from Cobb County, she will be keenly watching the progress of the lanes project in Cobb. When not reading and writing all things transit, Amanda is a fiber artist who lives and breathes yarn. An avid crochet and knitter (yeah Ravelry!), she especially enjoys deciphering Japanese crochet motifs and adding hand painted wools to her ever-expanding yarn stash.



I consider myself to be a healthy person. I’m also an environmentally conscious person. I care about the world we live in and I try to make choices that will help reduce my pollution contribution. Unfortunately, one of the choices that I lean towards, riding MARTA, makes me very, very ill.

Hi, my name is Beth Ament, and I get car sick. I also get…MARTA sick. It’s unfortunate because I love MARTA. I like making the choice to not drive and avoiding adding to traffic congestion in Atlanta. Unfortunately choosing to ride MARTA also makes me nauseous but to be fair, so does my husband’s driving.

My car sickness started about five years ago. At first, I thought it was just my husband’s spirited driving. He tends be a very deliberate driver and also prefers to take the most winding and twisting route from point A to point B. It was not until I took the train to work from the Edgewood Station to Five Points Station, and in the 7 minute ride I almost threw up three times that I realized that I had a problem. The motion sickness, or kinetosis, was debilitating. I felt dizzy, tired and nauseous. It was not a pleasant commute.

I was not willing to give up MARTA because in my mind, the pros still outweighed the cons. Taking the train for me was more convenient, cheaper, healthier, and it supported my passion for taking responsibility for our Earth. Thus, I needed to find a solution to my motion sickness dilemma so that I would stop showing up to work with a slightly green complexion and short temper. I get grumpy when I feel sick. Part of finding the solution was to first learn about what causes car sickness.

Through my extensive research (I Googled “car sickness”), I discovered that motion sickness is actually your body sensing a discrepancy between what you see and what you feel. The conflict (sitting still in a car vs. actually moving) triggers the production of a neurotransmitter that your body thinks is a signal of hallucinogenic poisoning. Your body then tries to rid itself of this which makes you feel all of the horrible side effects.

Once I armed myself with the knowledge of why the sickness occurred, I was then able to put together a plan. Below are some tips that I’ve found through reading and personal experimentation on preventing MARTA sickness along with car, sea, or air sickness:

  • Don’t talk about it. The first rule of preventing motion sickness is you do not talk about preventing motion sickness.
  • Close your eyes. When you don’t see anything it prevents the conflict that occurs when your body thinks you are still but you are actually moving.
  • Get fresh air. There is no scientific reason behind why this helps but trust me, it does. When I ride MARTA I make sure that I sit or stand by the door so that when it opens I get some outside air. In a car you can roll the window down.
  • Face forward. It helps to sit in the direction that your vehicle is moving. If you are in a car, try to sit in the front seat. If you are riding on the train, pick a seat or stand in the direction of the movement. 
  • Try acupressure. Apply gentle pressure on your forearm, between the two tendons, about an inch back from your wrist joint. This should temporary delay nausea until you are out of your vehicle or at your next MARTA station.
  • Breathe. With your eyes closed, take deep breaths and focus your attention on the inhale and exhale.

I’ve found that incorporating all of these tips helped me rejuvenate my relationship with MARTA. Don’t let motion sickness prevent you from all of the benefits of carpooling or riding transit. As a special bonus, it will also enhance your relationship with any spirited drivers you share the ride with.

Beth is a Project Manager for Georgia Commute Options and helps lead the Outreach Team. She is proud to have a job that she believes in and is passionate about improving the air quality in Georgia. Beth’s commute involves a combination of carpooling and teleworking. She is a certified yoga teacher and enjoys hiking with her husband, John (who loves taking MARTA to work) and her daughter, Penelope (who enjoys carpooling to daycare) and her dog, Fenwick Island (who does not commute currently but is looking for work – he needs a job)

Looking to connect with Beth? Get in touch with her here.