The future of mobility is upon us.

A network of “smart” traffic signals is headed for some of the region’s busiest thoroughfares. The system relies on Connected Vehicle (CV) technology – cars that talk to each other and to traffic signals and other infrastructure around them – to improve safety and efficiency.

The new tech promises some really cool, and potentially lifesaving, benefits.

CV technology can pre-empt traffic lights, keeping busses on schedule and saving precious seconds for emergency vehicles. Smart signals can also alert drivers to when a traffic signal is getting ready to turn red, giving drivers a little extra time to stop or slow down.

With a $10 million budget, the initiative is a significant investment for the region. Through a partnership between the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Atlanta Regional Commission, the goal is to equip 1,000 intersections with CV technology.

But that’s only part of the equation – more vehicle manufacturers are announcing plans to standardized CV technology in their cars. Ford has announced plans to deliver full connectivity in their fleets of vehicles starting in the 2022 model year.

ARC Chairman Kerry Armstrong said that the program will help boost safety and mobility across metro Atlanta. “It’s especially encouraging to see this program develop as a truly collaborative effort involving not just ARC and GDOT, but also local governments and CIDs,” he said in a recent news release from GDOT.

So when communicative cars are rolling out on the nation’s roads en masse, the region will be ready for them.

Take a look at some recent examples of metro Atlanta communities implementing ITS and CV systems:

North Fulton

In August, the North Fulton CID approved CV for 44 intersections in North Fulton. Improvements include emergency vehicle signal pre-emption, transit vehicle signal priority, and audio cues for drivers. The system will also offer an app that users can download to connect with the technology.

Sandy Springs

Sandy Springs adopted an ITS Master Plan in late 2019 with the goal of improving safety, mobility, and efficiency in its transportation network. Along with CV communications technology, the plan calls for new beacons, CCTV cameras, and other equipment upgrades to complement the improvements.

Gwinnett County

As part of the Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, Gwinnett rolled out the Connected Vehicle Technology Master Plan in Nov 2019. The plan focuses on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard as the first corridor to receive CV improvements like signal pre-emption and priority, and signal-to-driver communications.

Aerotropolis CID

Thanks to funding from ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) and the Aerotropolis Community Improvement Districts, Virginia Avenue – a two-mile corridor near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – is being evaluated with the goal implement autonomous and connected vehicles.

Want to learn more about connectivity and mobility in metro Atlanta?

Join us for ConnectATL on March 31 for a deep dive on everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Intelligent Transportation Systems.


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.