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Around Atlanta’s airport, study launches to examine possible innovative transit options

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Multimodal people-movers near Aerotropolis could include autonomous systems such as personal rapid transit

A photo of chalk drawings of bike and pedestrian lanes.
Aerotropolis leaders showed community members and reporters in April around mocked-up models for the planned multi-use trail network.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

The sizable, under-appreciated commercial areas wrapped around the world’s busiest airport have taken a step closer to a planned transformation.

Planning and engineering firm VHB announced Friday it is heading a study to identify possible transit models for Aerotropolis Atlanta—also called AeroATL—a project that aims to enliven underutilized areas around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The project is led by a partnership founded in 2015, called the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, which seeks to evolve Hartsfield-Jackson’s surrounding neighborhoods into something of an “airport city,” an idea that’s succeeded in cities such as Chicago and Washington D.C.

“The study will evaluate multimodal options, including rail transit and autonomous systems such as personal rapid transit, that offer the most efficient movement of people and goods within and even beyond the Aerotropolis area surrounding the airport,” according to a VHB press release.

Personal rapid transit, as described by Railway Technology, involves “lightweight, driverless vehicle[s], which can be deployed on networks of interconnected tracks.”

One day, the project is also supposed to include a 200-plus-mile network of multi-use trails—not unlike the Beltline—connecting Hapeville, College Park, East Point, and Forest Park.

VHB said it expects the transit feasibility study to be completed by the end of the year, but other aspects of the Aerotropolis revitalization efforts are already showing signs of promise.

The Aerotropolis vision has lured a handful of major developments, such as the Solis hotel, Porsche’s North American headquarters, and the “Airport City College Park,” a forthcoming, $500 million-plus mini-city slated for the neighborhood.

The Aerotropolis Community Improvement District and VHB will also host an “Innovation Summit” this fall to detail the other transportation technologies that Atlanta could hone.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

6000 N Terminal Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30320 (800) 897-1910 Visit Website