It is counterintuitive, I know, but the interchange is designed that way. When you take Exit 18 for Atlanta Highway, you are presented with the choice of three lanes:
- The right lane is marked for the mall only, and this lane is separated by a median to force traffic to turn right on Atlanta Highway and right again onto northbound Huntington Road (where the Georgia Square Mall is on the left).
- The middle lane also turns right but joins westbound Atlanta Highway.
- The left lane goes to a traffic light at Atlanta Highway.
Drivers mistakenly choose the middle lane because it turns right and goes west on Atlanta Highway. You know you are turning right but taking the first left onto Huntington Road if you are headed to those southern destinations. However, this next intersection is very close to the interchange, and you would be forced to drive across two lanes to get to the left-turn lanes for Huntington. Not only is this too short and dangerous, there is a solid white stripe (a gore) signaling that changing lanes is not permitted. The left-turn lanes on the other side are also separated by a gore. Drivers frequently stop in the lane feeding Atlanta Highway from the exit — blocking traffic behind them — to wait for a break in traffic so that they can drive across this gore, drive across the two regular lanes, and drive across another gore to get into the turn lanes. In other words, these drivers inconvenience a bunch of other people and commit four traffic violations to make this one maneuver.
If you take the leftmost lane from this exit and go to the traffic light, you will see that arrows are painted showing both left and right turns are permitted. This right turn through the light will provide earlier access to the left-turn lanes for Huntington Road. This is apparently the way this interchange was designed to be used. It is the only legal and safe way to exit the Loop (the Perimeter Highway) from the southbound lanes and turn left (south) onto Huntington Road. It would be a little more obvious to drivers if both gores were also marked with reflective domes or poles to provide a physical barrier between the lanes. Fortunately, I understand that at some point in the future this interchange will be upgraded, and I hope this confusion will be corrected.