Innovative solutions and additional investment in public transportation are noteworthy elements of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s (ARC) update to its PLAN 2040 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). And, until February 21, citizens of the Atlanta region can visit www.atlantaregional.com/openhouse to see the information available on the updated plan and leave their thoughts for ARC.
The site includes all the materials that were available at a “pop-up” open house ARC hosted on January 11, along with links to the required documentation and federal regulations that govern the RTP. More than 130 people visited the pop-up open house in downtown Decatur. It is a model that ARC hopes to tweak and use around the region in the future.
The RTP is a $59 billion plan for transportation spending in an 18-county region through the year 2040. Due to the cost of maintaining the region’s existing network, there is only about $15 billion for expansion over that time. Considering that ARC expects the region to add almost three million more residents by 2040, that won’t be enough to keep up with congestion.
The update focuses the plan even more heavily on relieving the region’s worst bottlenecks and on providing residents with more options for getting around. It also takes into account some shifts in priorities by local jurisdictions and by the federal government following the passage of a new federal funding bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21).
“ARC has closely worked with communities to identify high-value, lower-cost projects to support economic competitiveness and congestion relief goals,” said Doug Hooker, ARC executive director. “Two great examples are the diverging diamond interchanges that will improve access to the world’s busiest airport and address significant congestion bottlenecks.”
One highlight of the update is that ARC was able to take applications from local jurisdictions for new projects under the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ), which requires that projects meet certain congestion and air quality standards. These projects will all be underway within the next three years. A few of the CMAQ projects include:
- $15.2 million for operations support of the Atlanta Streetcar scheduled to open in May.
- $11.4 million to reduce MARTA rail wait times from 15 minutes to 10 minutes during morning and afternoon rush hours.
- $24 million in signal synchronizations and traffic management systems along key freight and commuting corridors around the region
- $9.6 million toward diverging diamond interchanges at I-75 and Windy Hill Road in Cobb County and at I-285 and Camp Creek Parkway in Fulton County.
- $3.6 million to replace diesel MARTA buses with natural gas buses in south Fulton County.
- $44 million to extend the HOT lanes on I-85 from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road.
“ARC is excited to partner with MARTA to improve the frequency of trains on the MARTA system from 15 to 10 minutes,” said John Orr, manager, ARC’s Transportation Access & Mobility Division. “This will improve the quality of life for our region’s citizens and improve their ability to get to work in a reliable manner.”
Aside from these CMAQ projects, the RTP includes other critical projects that will get underway between now and 2016. These include:
- $65.5 million for an underpass and realignment of Highway 92 in Douglasville
- $3 million for an underpass at Old Covington Highway and Ga. 138
- $557.8 million for express toll lanes along I-75 from Charles Grant Parkway to two miles south of Ga. 155
- $935 million for express toll lanes along I-75 from Akers Mill Road to Hickory Grove Road and along I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road
- $112 million for extension of existing express toll lanes along I-85 from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road
- $8.7 million for pedestrian/bicycle facilities and upgrades along Juniper Street and Ponce De Leon Avenue in the City of Atlanta
- $3.2 million for pedestrian/bicycle facilities along Franklin Road in Cobb County
- $5.4 million for medians and pedestrian/bicycle improvements along Buford Highway and in Suwanee in Gwinnett County
- $1.6 million to improve intersections and safety along Ga. 6 in Cobb and Douglas counties, which carries truck traffic to and from the largest freight rail facility in the Southeast
These are just a few highlights from a long list of projects in the RTP between now and 2040. To see a complete list, visit www.atlantaregional.com/rtpupdate.