Study: Economic Impact of Proposed Multimodal Passenger Terminal

January 31, 2012

Georgia’s annual economic output will increase by more than $5.2 billion by 2040 — thanks to reduced commute times, jobs brought downtown and additional development — if a multimodal passenger terminal and green space stretching from the Georgia Dome to the Capitol are built in downtown Atlanta, according to a new study.

A major caveat: The master plan for the site is only in the early stages. And as with any long-term economic forecast, the study, commissioned by the downtown development group Central Atlanta Progress, contains educated guesswork.

“There are so many external shocks that can affect things,” said Bruce Seaman, associate professor of economics at Georgia State University, a forecasting expert who was not involved in the study. “Of course it’s going to be a challenge to go out 30 years.”

The city and state have struggled for years to gain traction on a transit hub envisioned for the area residents know as the “Gulch.” The sunken tract of downtown, spread for acres around CNN Center, is crisscrossed with railroad tracks and parking lots. Late last year, the Georgia Department of Transportation signed a $12.2 million contract for a new master plan with a team of contractors experienced in large-scale developments.

“While it is still very early in the process, we’re proud of the work we’re starting and how it will benefit our hometown,” said Larry Gellerstedt, president and chief executive officer of Cousins Properties.

The study released Friday is the latest salvo in more than 17 years of brainstorming about how to get a multipurpose transit center — a central hub linking MARTA, intercity buses and rail — built downtown.

The study by Bleakly Advisory Group, Economic Development Research Group and Kimley-Horn and Associates made some eye-popping financial predictions about the effects of the passenger terminal. Among them:

● Over the next 30 years, nearly $3.1 billion in net additional investment and building in the Gulch area.

● $2.2 billion saved in travel costs for the region’s residents and businesses.

● Nearly 15,700 more jobs brought to downtown Atlanta and up to 8.6 million square feet of additional development attracted to the Gulch and surrounding area.

“This economic impact study highlights the importance of moving forward with the multimodal passenger terminal as well as its direct impact on economic development in downtown Atlanta and the larger Atlanta region,” said A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress. “The redevelopment effects indicated in this study underscore the importance of the [terminal], not only for downtown but the Atlanta region at large.”

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Public Input Sought on Milton Highway 9 Study

January 26, 2012

The City of Milton will host the second of four public meetings at 6 p.m. January 26th, 2012 to discuss development of the Highway 9 District, the city’s most populated area. The meetings are being conducted as part of the Ga. 9 Livable Centers Initiative study funded with a $100,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission.

The LCI grant program funds small area studies to determine strategies that link transportation improvements with land-use development.

The meeting is at City Hall, 13000 Deerfield Parkway.

Information: 678-242-2538 or

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Public Input for MARTA’s GA. 400 Alternative Analysis

January 26, 2012

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) needs public input on potential high capacity transit improvements along the GA 400 in North Fulton County.  Here’s a chance to share your ideas with key staff as they plan for this important corridor.

MARTA, in coordination with regional and corridor stakeholders, is undertaking the Georgia 400 Corridor Transit Initiative – Alternatives Analysis to consider a variety of alignment and transit technology options to improve regional mobility and accessibility in one of the region’s most important and heavily congested corridors.

The Alternatives Analysis will assess the need for high-capacity transit connections between the Perimeter Center area near the interchange of I-285 and GA 400 in the City of Sandy Springs and McGinnis Ferry Road in northern Fulton County.

To engage the public in the project and get feedback, MARTA will be host a public meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Fulton County North Service Center, 7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs.

The meeting will introduce the project to the community, present existing conditions, and gather ideas for the Corridor. For information on the project, visit the website at, check out the Connect 400 Facebook page, call MARTA Project Manager Jason Morgan at 404-848-4494 or email the project team at

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ARC Releases Economic Analysis of Transportation Referendum Impacts

January 26, 2012

(ATLANTA – January 26, 2012)  Voters in the Atlanta region have the opportunity to pass a referendum on July 31, 2012 that would raise $8.5 billion through a one percent sales tax to fund transportation projects across the region.  Based on the list of priority transportation improvements developed by a Regional Transportation Roundtable of local officials, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and a team of economists have completed an initial analysis and forecast of the economic impacts of the 2012 Regional Transportation Referendum’s passage and build-out.

Economic benefits accrued through 2040 include the following, if the referendum passes*:

  • 4 to 1 return on investment – The $8.5 billion investment in 157 projects will result in a $34.8 billion* increase in gross regional product in the Atlanta region by 2040.
  • 200,000 additional jobs supported – The analysis indicates that the transportation investment will create or support an additional 200,000 job years**, including jobs that are maintained year-over-year.  Almost two-thirds of those jobs will be in mid-to-high paying job sectors.  The construction sector was hardest hit by the recession.  The referendum would lead to the creation and support of 34,000 jobs in this critical sector by 2040.
  • $18 billion in travel time savings – The average metro Atlanta commuter spends $924 each year sitting in traffic. Collectively, these projects would allow residents to save $9.2 billion* by 2040.
  • $18 billion increase in personal income – Due to the travel time savings and reduced fuel costs, incomes around the region will increase a collective $18 billion by 2040.

“After several months of in-depth computer modeling and analysis and with input from regional policy experts and economists, we believe that these numbers represent a conservative estimate of the positive impacts these projects would have on the region’s economy,” said Tad Leithead, ARC Chairman.  “The referendum project list is regional in nature, but has something for everyone in metro Atlanta.  By making these improvements in the next 10 years, rather than 20 or 30 years from now, these projects can be built cheaper, can improve transportation more quickly and have a positive economic impact sooner.”

Why More Funding?

Over the last several decades, metro Atlanta has been one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.  The region’s population has increased from three million in 1990 to five million in 2010, and ARC predicts that it will grow to more than eight million by 2040.

Meanwhile, the region has experienced a funding shortfall at the state and federal levels as fuel efficiency and less driving has sent gas tax revenues on a downward trend.  Since 1980, the average fuel efficiency of a passenger car sold in America has increased by almost 40 percent, going from 24.3 MPG to 33.8 MPG.***

Because of this, 70 percent of the region’s scheduled transportation funding for the next 30 years will be spent on simply maintaining the existing network, leaving little room for expansion.  As the region continues to grow, congestion will get worse, costing metro Atlantans more time and money spent in their cars.

“As the federally-designated transportation planning agency for the Atlanta region, our job is to accurately calculate the economic benefits of targeted transportation improvements,” said Leithead.  “The voters will ultimately make the decision regarding the referendum that they believe is best for the region.”

*These dollar amounts are stated in 2011 dollars.

**The term “job years” is a comprehensive measurement of the real supported employment created by the Transportation Referendum.  Modeling results include reoccurring jobs – those jobs that last more than one year. Using job years prevents double counting and accurately reflects the true economic value of the employment represented by the job. For further explanation of job years, contact Jim Jaquish at 404-463-3194.

*** Research and Innovative Technology Administration

Alliance for Biking and Walking’s: Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report

January 24, 2012

The Alliance for Biking and Walking’s Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report was recently published.  The bi-annual report is a user friendly source for statistics and data regarding mode share, safety, and trends in the 50 states and 51 biggest cities in the U.S.  The report further reinforces that cycling and walking are closely correlated to the health, livability, and resilience of communities.  Though nationally bicycling and walking levels continue to rise, Atlanta and Georgia still lag behind in terms of mode share and positive safety trends.

The report is an essential resource and tool for government officials, advocates, and those working to promote bicycling and walking.  This third biennial report reveals data including: bicycling and walking levels and demographics; bicycle and pedestrian safety; funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects; written policies on bicycling and walking; bicycle infrastructure; bike-transit integration; bicycling and walking education and encouragement activities; public health indicators; and the economic impact of bicycling and walking.  The report is full of data tables and graphs that show how your state or city stacks up, and provides unprecedented statistics to help support your case for increasing safe bicycling and walking in your community.  It was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and made possible through the additional support of AARP and Planet Bike.

Main Conclusions:
The report shows that increasing bicycling and walking are goals that are clearly in the public interest.  Where bicycling and walking levels are higher, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes levels are lower.  Higher levels of bicycling and walking also coincide with increased bicycle and pedestrian safety and higher levels of physical activity.  Increasing bicycling and walking can help solve many serious problems facing our nation.  As this report indicates, many states and cities are making progress toward promoting safe access for bicyclists and pedestrians, but much more remains to be done.

Georgia Universities Awarded Competitive Grant for Transportation Research

January 19, 2012

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced earlier this week a $77 million grant to 22 University Transportation Centers (UTCs) to advance research and education programs that address critical transportation challenges facing our nation. Among these competitive grant award winners is the Georgia Institute of Technology UTC, which will receive $3.5 million in federal funds. The UTCs, which are located throughout the United States, conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the participating universities are a critical part of our national transportation strategy. Georgia Tech leads a consortium of nine colleges and universities in Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Recent research at the Georgia Tech UTC has focused on transportation economics, freight operations, intelligent transportation systems and performance measurement.

DOT’s Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), which administers the UTC program, used a competitive selection process to grant award winners. The centers will advance U.S. transportation technology and expertise in research, education, and technology transfer. Each one of the selected UTCs will receive a $3.5 million grant which they must match with funds from non-federal sources. The 22 UTCs selected are all consortia, involving a total of 121 different universities.

UTCs work with regional, state and local transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system. UTC projects are peer-reviewed and the results of their work are shared with the national transportation community to encourage greater progress through collaboration. The selected universities will research a wide range of transportation-related issues including shared rail corridors, innovations in multimodal freight and infrastructure, bridge inspection methods, and reducing roadway fatalities and injuries.

EPA Launches Greenhouse Gas Visualization Tool

January 13, 2012

Here’s some interesting news about visualization for point source air pollution from the Environmental Protection Agency.  The Atlanta region is a federally designated nonattainment area for certain forms of air pollution. As such, ARC tracks mobile source emissions (as estimated from the implementation of the Regional Transportation Plan) in order to meet requirements set forth in the Clean Air Act. Visit ARC’s air quality page for more information about the various types of air pollution and regional air quality planning efforts.

WASHINGTON – For the first time, comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) data reported directly from large facilities and suppliers across the country are now easily accessible to the public through EPA’s GHG Reporting Program. The 2010 GHG data released today includes public information from facilities in nine industry groups that directly emit large quantities of GHGs, as well as suppliers of certain fossil fuels.

“Thanks to strong collaboration and feedback from industry, states and other organizations, today we have a transparent, powerful data resource available to the public,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The GHG Reporting Program data provides a critical tool for businesses and other innovators to find cost- and fuel-saving efficiencies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and foster technologies to protect public health and the environment.”

EPA’s online data publication tool allows users to view and sort GHG data for calendar year 2010 from over 6,700 facilities in a variety of ways—including by facility, location, industrial sector, and the type of GHG emitted. This information can be used by communities to identify nearby sources of GHGs, help businesses compare and track emissions, and provide information to state and local governments.
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