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Atlanta’s biggest transportation news of 2017

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This year saw the rise of regional transit initiatives and the unthinkable collapse of one of the city’s busiest arteries.

An aerial image of demolition, with four sections missing and one being torn down.
The Interstate 85 bridge collapse radically altered the way people got around Atlanta.

For Atlantans, this year has been chockfull of exciting (and horrifying) transportation events.

From the formation of a regional transportation task force, to the collapse of the Interstate 85 bridge, 2017 has seen no shortage of news concerning how Atlantans move around the city.

Below are some of the biggest takeaways from an unforgettable year:

Rise of two-wheeled transportation

This year has been rather terrific for those who use two wheels to get around the city.

With the opening of new cycle tracks in various parts of Atlanta—including one linking downtown to the Westside, which won national recognition—things are really looking up for cyclists.

Plus, Atlantans and visitors alike now have some 500 bike-share options in neighborhoods throughout town.

One thing’s for sure: Atlanta is on its way to becoming a bona-fide biking city!

Near Georgia Tech, a rendering for Tech Parkway’s overhaul, looking south toward downtown.
The new Tech Parkway cycle track.
Georgia Tech

Regional mass transit swings into favor

A study this fall indicated that a majority of metro Atlanta residents support a regional solution for public transportation. The revelation came after the state legislature created the first-ever task force to investigate how to approach transportation at a regional level.

In the new year, expect to see regional investment for new bus services in previously under-served parts of the metro. And, potentially, progress on a high-speed rail line with service all the way to Chattanooga.

MARTA has a big year

While regional transportation will likely take many forms (and agencies), the city’s heaviest hitter for transportation is also enjoying rising support.

Thanks to last year’s T-SPLOST vote, projects to expand MARTA will see major funding. Potential areas of expansion include a five-station extension of the Blue Line to Stonecrest and the long-planned Clifton Road Corridor line, thanks to the annexation of Emory University and the CDC.

Additionally, the Atlanta Streetcar—which has enjoyed increasing rider numbers and improved safety—will become part of MARTA. Early priority will be given, per Atlanta’s outgoing mayor, to extending the streetcar to the Beltline.

A picture of the Atlanta Streetcar downtown. Curbed Atlanta

Drivers can’t catch a break

It was an epically wild year for the region’s car commuters.

During evening rush hour March 30, a fire underneath an Interstate 85 bridge just north of Midtown caused sections of the road to buckle and give way, crashing down near Piedmont Road. The incident garnered international attention, and threw Atlanta traffic into chaos.

While the bridge was out, other incidents—a chemical spill, a fire on MARTA, etc.—contributed to the overall terribleness. Thanks to $3.1 million in incentives, the repair work was done in about six weeks.

Beyond the monumental news of the year, other car-related announcements include the continued rollout of tolled lanes and the reconstruction of the Interstate 285/Georgia Highway 400 interchange.

Maybe it’s a good thing the city has begun testing autonomous vehicles, which could one day help navigate people around traffic.