We all want better ways of getting from Point A to Point B.
Now, you have a chance to weigh in on a 30-year, long-range regional plan designed to improve mobility across metro Atlanta.
The plan is comprehensive, and it’s big. We’re talking a total of $172.6 billion through the year 2050.
If that seems a looooong way off, know that about $33 billion in federal, state and local funds is planned be spent over the next six years on transportation projects and programs across the region.
It’s all part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s work to update the Regional Transportation Plan, which details a range of investments designed to keep our region moving forward. That means things like improvements to roads and highways, better transit options, and an expanded network of multi-use trails.
ARC is taking public comment now through Dec. 13, with anticipated adoption in February 2020.
Before we delve into the specifics, let’s have a little reality check. The funds, as substantial as they are, won’t “fix” the region’s traffic issues. Every region with a thriving economy wrestles with traffic.
And remember the Atlanta region is expected to add nearly 3 million people between now and 2050 (that’s like all of metro Denver moving here), so a good deal of the investment is needed just to keep up with the growth.
But that doesn’t meant things can’t get better. So, here’s a look at what’s in the plan, and how to have your voice heard in the process.
First things first: maintenance and safety
The plan calls for $102 billion, or nearly 60% of the total, to be spent to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure that’s already in place.
Think resurfacing roads, repairing bridges, and replacing aging buses and rail cars, as well as new technology that promises to improve safety and traffic flow by connecting vehicles to “smart” traffic signals.
All aboard: new transit options
Not everyone can, or wants to, drive. Indeed, the Atlanta region is increasingly looking to public transit to provide new ways of getting around town without hopping in a car.
There’s been a lot of momentum in this area over the past few years, and the Regional Transportation Plan reflects this trend.
The plan includes:
- The $2.7 billion More MARTA program in the City of Atlanta, which includes light rail on portions of the Atlanta BeltLine and the Clifton Corridor, extensions to the city’s streetcar network, and bus rapid transit projects on key corridors
- Bus rapid transit expansion project in Gwinnett County to connect the Doraville MARTA station to Sugarloaf Mills.
- Connect Cobb bus rapid transit, from Kennesaw State University to Arts Center MARTA station
- Clayton County bus rapid transit to connect the county to the College Park MARTA station.
Mode shift: getting the most out of existing network
We all can’t drive alone in our cars at rush hour. Our roads and highways simply can’t support that kind of demand.
That’s why the Regional Transportation Plan provides nearly $10 billion to help reduce congestion by changing how and when people get to work. This includes:
- Expansion of the region’s bike-ped trails, to provide new ways of getting around.
- Funding for the region’s Livable Centers Initiative, which helps communities transform into more vibrant places where it’s possible to walk from home to work to the store or restaurant.
- Funding for so-called Transportation Demand Management programs and other initiatives that help people change their travel behavior, whether that means carpooling, using transit, traveling at off-peak hours, or teleworking.
The most-wanted list: tackling the worst bottlenecks
We all know that one choke point that causes traffic headaches for miles around. When, we wonder, will “they” finally fix it?
The Regional Transportation Plan takes aim at these congestion engines by upgrading, expanding or replacing key interchanges. Projects include:
- I-285 North at Ga. 400 in Fulton Co. – reconstruction
- I-285 West at I-20 West in Fulton Co. – reconstruction
- I-285 East and I-20 East in DeKalb Co. – reconstruction
- I-85 North at North Druid Hills Road in DeKalb Co. – reconstruction
- I-85 North at McGinnis Ferry Road in Gwinnett Co. – new interchange
- I-20 East at SR 20/138 in Rockdale Co. – reconstruction
Growing space: expanding roadway capacity
While there are many ways to improve congestion, from better transit options to alternative commute options like carpooling and teleworking, sometimes widening a major road is a necessary step.
The Regional Transportation Plan includes 215 arterial widenings and other projects that will add a total of about 600 lane-miles of capacity to the region’s arterial network by 2050.
And, here’s some of the key projects expected in the next decade:
- Widening Piedmont Road from Lenox Road to Peachtree Road in City of Atlanta
- Widening SR 20 from I-575 in Cherokee County to Post Road in Forsyth County
- Widening U.S. 23 in Clayton County from SR 138 to I-675
- New alignment for Sugarloaf Parkway in Gwinnett County, from SR 316 to I-85
- Widening U.S. 23 in Henry County from downtown McDonough to SR 138
How to learn more, and have your say
There are plenty of ways to get involved and make sure that regional planners hear your thoughts on the long-range plan.
- Review the Regional Transportation Plan
- Provide a comment about the Regional Transportation Plan
- Play the ‘Future Focus’ online game and learn about the main drivers of change that will impact the region’s future
- Host a Civic Dinner and talk about the region’s future over a meal
What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.