Better strap in. Metro Atlanta’s transportation network is set for a sizable makeover.
The region’s transportation planners recently approved more than 100 projects, at a price tag of nearly $400 million.
What will the region get for that chunk of change? Think improved roads, expanded transit service, better sidewalks, and miles of new multi-use trails. The projects will be completed or under way in the next five years.
The federal government is picking up much of the tab, with local governments providing more than $100 million in matching funds. The project list was developed by the Atlanta Regional Commission, which worked closely with counties and cities to meet local and regional priorities.
The potential impact is significant, from cleaner air to reduced congestion. Check out these numbers:
- The bike-ped and transit projects will take enough cars off the road to reduce annual vehicle miles traveled in the Atlanta region by 3 million miles.
- Tailpipe emissions will decrease by 19,900 tons per year.
- Vehicle travel delays will decline by 7 million hours a year.
The $400 million is in addition to billions of dollars of major freeway projects already under way or planned through 2023, such as Express lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, and a massive rebuild of the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange, as well as many local projects.
Here’s a close look at what’s coming down the pike through this latest round of funding:
Improved roads and intersections
Dozens of projects are on the horizon to improve congestion and safety for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. Here are some highlights:
- South Barrett Parkway Reliever (Cobb County) – Cobb commuters are known to grumble about Barrett Parkway, one of the busiest corridors in the Town Center area. This project will create a viable alternative by widening Shiloh Valley Drive/Greers Chapel Drive from two to four lanes and extending it across I-75. Cost: $33.7 million
- Valley Hill Road Bridge (Clayton County) – Aging Valley Hill Road Bridge, which crosses the Flint River, will be replaced and widened from two to four lanes, with sidewalks on both sides and a raised median to improve pedestrian access and safety. This will also accommodate a proposed future widening of Valley Hill Road. Cost: $2.9 million
- S. 278 redesign (City of Avondale Estates, DeKalb County) – U.S. 278 in Avondale Estates will be reimagined as a pedestrian-friendly “Main Street” with improved sidewalks, new bike lanes, pedestrian crossings with medians, providing greater access to commercial areas and the Avondale MARTA station. Cost: $5.5 million
- Rock Quarry Road (Henry County) – This project will purchase right of way to widen this key north-south artery from two to four lanes between Eagles Landing Parkway and North Henry Parkway and a 10-foot multiuse path, with construction planned from 2024-2030. Cost: $26.2 million
- Barnwell Road (City of Johns Creek, Fulton County) – The Barnwell Road-Holcomb Bridge Road intersection is a bottleneck during rush hour. To improve traffic flow, Barnwell will be upgraded to include dual left turn lanes, a through lane and a right-hand turn lane at Holcomb Bridge, along with a mini-roundabout at Niblick Drive. Cost: $7.3 million
- Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Smart Corridor (Gwinnett County) – A 20-mile stretch of Peachtree Industrial, from Holcomb Bridge Road to the Hall County line, will be outfitted with connected vehicle technology to enable traffic signals to communicate with vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Cost: $2.6 million
More transit options
Of course, roads are only part of the story. The region’s transit providers have big plans to improve service and meet growing demand:
- Gwinnett County Transit will extend weekday service on local bus routes will now run past midnight, and reduces wait times to 30 minutes or less most of the day.
- CobbLINC willestablish Sunday service and enhances Saturday service.
- Douglas County will launch a countywide bus service.
- SRTA/GRTA will expandXpress service in coordination with the opening of the I-75/I-575 Xpress Lanes in Cobb and Cherokee and expand park-and-ride lots in Rockdale County and at Sugarloaf in Gwinnett County.
- MARTA will establish arterial rapid transit routes in the city of Atlanta (Cascade Road, Cleveland Ave., Campbellton Road, Metropolitan Parkway, and Peachtree Road).
Expanded regional multi-use trail network
A major expansion of the region’s multi-use trails used by bicyclists and pedestrians is planned – about 800 miles in all. The projects are a major step toward the creation of a truly regional trail network that will make it easier for people to get where they need to go without driving.
- Atlanta BeltLine (Atlanta) – Preliminary engineering for two segments – Lindbergh Center to 10Th Street/Monroe Drive, and Glenwood Ave. to University Ave.
- Bob Callan Trail (Cobb) – Design of extension from Interstate North Parkway to just south of Windy Hill Road, creating direct or potential connections to Kennesaw Mountain, the Silver Comet Trail, the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, PATH400, and the Atlanta BeltLine Trail.
- Peachtree Creek Greenway Trail (DeKalb) – This project will extend the Peachtree Creek Greenway from the city of Atlanta to North Druid Hills Road, connecting to the Atlanta BeltLine Trail.
- PATH400 (Atlanta) – The PATH400 trail will be extended from Wieuca Road to Loridans Drive, providing a critical link in the region’s trail network, providing access to major employment centers.
- Lee Street Trail (Atlanta) – This 2.6-mile segment will run along Lee Street in southwest Atlanta from the West End MARTA station to the Lakewood/Ft. McPherson MARTA station. Plans call for portions to be raised with a landscaped buffer protecting users from adjacent traffic.
Fast-Tracked Highway Projects
Funding included in the project list will accelerate the construction timetable of major highway projects planned by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The funds will pay for preliminary engineering work on the following projects:
- I-285 West Express Lanes (I-20W to I-75N)
- I-285 East Express Lanes (I-20E to I-85N)
- Interchange improvements at I-285 and I-20W
- Interchange improvements at I-285 and I-20E
Separate from this project list, GDOT plans to open Express lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties in late summer. The state is also rebuilding the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange.
Atlanta Region’s Transportation Improvement Program
The project list is part of the Atlanta region’s Transportation Improvement Program, which is managed by the Atlanta Regional Commission. As the region’s federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization, ARC allocates federal transportation dollars across the 20-county Atlanta region.
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.