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Planners unveil $173B vision to ‘keep metro ATL moving’ through 2050, seek public input

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December 13 marks deadline to weigh in on projects that could determine transportation options for decades

A picture of atlanta traffic, with cars in the foreground and buildings behind.
A downtown Connector scene from 2005, when the Texas Transportation Institute ranked Atlanta fourth for delays per traveler.
Barry Williams/Getty Images

Atlanta Regional Commission officials are crafting a longterm plan to boost mobility options around metro Atlanta, and they’re calling on residents to help determine what that will look like.

The Regional Transportation Plan, still in the drafting phase, will ultimately represent $172.6 billion in projects that could dictate how metro Atlantans get from Point A to Point B decades from now.

ARC leaders know that’s a big number. To put the cost of the 30-year plan in perspective, they noted in the draft that “about $33 billion in federal, state, and local funds is planned be spent over the next six years on transportation projects and programs across the region.”

It’s also important to note, though, that metro Atlanta’s population is expected to swell by nearly 3 million people between now and 2050, and that virtually all major cities are doomed to struggle with traffic—at least as long as cars are the go-to method of travel.

Anticipated to be adopted in February, the tentative plan is projected to earmark nearly 60 percent of its budget—about $102 billion—for improvements to existing transportation infrastructure.

That means road resurfacing, bridge repair, and the replacement of old buses and rail cars, plus upgrades “to improve safety and traffic flow by connecting vehicles to ‘smart’ traffic signals,” per an ARC blog post.

But the plan also calls for plenty of additions to the region’s transit network, including:

  • The $2.7 billion More MARTA program in the City of Atlanta, which includes light rail on portions of the Atlanta Beltline and the Clifton Corridor, extensions to the city’s streetcar network, and bus rapid transit projects on key corridors;
  • A bus rapid transit expansion project in Gwinnett County to connect the Doraville MARTA Station to Sugarloaf Mills;
  • Connect Cobb bus rapid transit, from Kennesaw State University to Arts Center MARTA Station;
  • Clayton County bus rapid transit to connect the county to the College Park MARTA Station.

Additionally, the tentative plan calls for nearly $10 billion to go toward encouraging people to consider alternative modes of transportation and carpooling.

“We all can’t drive alone in our cars at rush hour. Our roads and highways simply can’t support that kind of demand,” the blog post reads.

So, future metro Atlantans can look forward to a road map for new multi-use trails and funding for the region’s Livable Centers Initiative and programs that urge people to ditch their cars or, at least, drive together.

According to the post, ARC leaders also have their sights set on a few of the region’s “worst bottlenecks,” meaning that major choke points on interstates 285, 85, and 20 and Ga. Highway 400 would be rebuilt.

Until December 13, ARC leaders are calling for public input that will inform the final blueprint for the transportation plan.