To remain competitive and support anticipated growth, the Atlanta region must develop and maintain world-class infrastructure. This includes building a comprehensive transportation network that incorporates regional transit, and securing a sustainable, long-term supply of clean water. The 10-county Atlanta region is expected to add 2.5 million people between now and 2040. Careful planning and robust investment is needed to ensure metro Atlanta has the infrastructure needed for a successful future.
The Atlanta Regional Commission forecasts the 20-county Atlanta will add 2.9 million people by 2050, bringing the region’s total population to 8.6 million. Careful planning and robust investment is needed to ensure metro Atlanta has the infrastructure needed for a successful future.
Ensuring a comprehensive transportation network, incorporating regional transit and 21st century technology
The Atlanta region was born as a transportation hub and remains a logistics center, boasting the nation’s ninth-largest public transit system, the convergence of three major Interstate highways, and the world’s busiest airport. Developing this robust infrastructure took proactive planning and investment.
The challenge of maintaining and expanding our region’s transportation systems is greater than ever. The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes an investment of about $173 billion in federal, state and local funds to improve our region’s transportation infrastructure, providing new choices for residents and keeping our economy competitive.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan acknowledges we can’t build our way out of congestion. No region can. In many ways, congestion is a byproduct of a healthy economy.
But that doesn’t mean things can’t improve. A balanced approach can make a real difference. The Atlanta Region’s Plan presents a seven-point plan for improving mobility in metro Atlanta:
- Reducing demand on the transportation system through alternative commuting options such as carpooling and teleworking (page 71)
- Supporting growth and development programs such as the Livable Centers Initiative and transit oriented development (page 77)
- Expanding walking and bicycling options (page 81)
- Improving safety for all travelers (page 86)
- Undertaking strategic road and interchange improvements, including expansion of the express lane network (page 90)
- Designing projects to support freight movement (page 98)
- Increasing transit options (page 101)
The Atlanta Region’s Plan prioritizes the maintenance of our existing system while promoting trip reliability and system resiliency in the future.
More than half of transportation funding programmed in the Atlanta Region’s Plan — about $102 billion through 2050, or 59% of the total – will be used for maintenance projects such as resurfacing roads, repairing and replacing bridges, and replacing buses and rail cars.
The plan also includes funding to operate the region’s Transportation Systems Management and Operations programs, which are designed to ease congestion and improve safety and reliability.
Transit is a critical part of metro Atlanta’s transportation network and is playing an increasingly important role in attracting economic development. Expanded transit options are needed to improve mobility in metro Atlanta and help ensure that the region remains economically competitive with a high quality of life.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan programs $10.9 billion for transit expansion projects through 2050. The goal: creating a truly regional transit network that provides better access to jobs and essential services while reducing congestion and improving air quality.
Projects scheduled in the next decade include:
- High capacity transit in Clayton County, phase 1 of which will connect Jonesboro to the East Point MARTA station.
- Expansion of the city of Atlanta’s streetcar network on North Ave. and from Jackson St. to Ponce City Market, to provide new connections and transportation options.
- Bus rapid transit lines in Clayton Co. to replace two conventional MARTA bus routes.
- Bus rapid transit line to connect Georgia State University Stadium in Summerhill to the MARTA rail network.
- Engineering and other work will take place to prepare for construction of transit on segments of the Atlanta BeltLine.
- Other key projects are programmed for later years in the plan, including a bus rapid transit line in Gwinnett County connecting the Doraville MARTA station and Sugarloaf Mills, and a bus rapid transit line in Cobb County, connecting Kennesaw State University and the Arts Center MARTA station.
The plan also provides funding for other key regional initiatives:
- Improving options for pedestrians and bicyclists and help fulfill the vision of a regional-scale trail network found in the Atlanta regional bicycle & pedestrian plan, Walk, Bike, Thrive!
- Fostering more walkable communities through ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative, which provides grants to help local communities re-envision themselves as more vibrant, pedestrian-friendly places that increase mobility options.
- Encouraging alternative commute options through the Georgia Commute Options program, which is operated by ARC and the Georgia Department of Transportation, including carpooling and vanpooling, transit, teleworking, and flexible work schedules.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan programs $27.3 billion to improve the region’s road and highway system. This includes:
- Expanding the region’s network of Express lanes, which charge a variable toll depending on level of congestion to keep traffic flowing. Transit vehicles, such as commuter buses, are able to use the lanes, providing additional mobility options.
- Expanding roadway capacity strategically, with a focus on the most congested corridors where additional capacity can provide long-term impacts.
- Addressing the most prominent interchange bottlenecks to help reduce congestion, support the movement of freight, and improve safety.
Freeway projects due to start construction in the next decade include:
- Managed lanes on the top-end Perimeter, I-285 East, and I-285 West
- I-285 North at Ga. 400 in Fulton – reconstruction
- I-285 West at I-20 West interchange in Fulton – reconstruction
- I-285 East and I-20 East interchange in DeKalb – reconstruction
- I-85 North at McGinnis Ferry Road in Gwinnett – new interchange
- I-20 East at SR 20/138 in Rockdale – reconstruction
The Regional Transportation Plan also includes 215 arterial widenings and other projects that will add a total of about 600 lane-miles of capacity to the region’s arterial network by 2050. Projects expected in the next decade include:
- Widening Piedmont Road from Lenox Road to Peachtree Road in City of Atlanta
- Widening SR 20 from I-575 in Cherokee County to Post Road in Forsyth County, in five phases. (Phase 1,2, 3, 4,5)
- Widening SR 85 from Old National Highway in Fayette Co. to Roberts Drive in Riverdale
- Widening Sugarloaf Parkway in Gwinnett County, from Satellite Boulevard to Peachtree Industrial Boulevard
- Widening U.S. 23 in Henry County from downtown McDonough to SR 138
Technology has changed the way residents live and travel in the Atlanta region. New technologies provide travelers with real-time data to inform decisions and will continue to shape the way residents and goods move in the future.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes funding to operate the region’s Transportation Systems Management program, which is designed to anticipate and manage congestion, reduce injuries and fatalities, and improve travel time reliability. The application of technologies, such as synchronized signal timing and advanced traffic management systems, improve how governments stay ahead of congestion.
Transportation Systems Management projects that are used in metro Atlanta include:
- HERO (Highway Emergency Response Operators) traffic incident management and clearance
- Georgia Navigator Advanced Traffic Management System, including freeway cameras, highway traffic message signs, speed detection, and on-ramp metering
- Regional Traffic Operations Program traffic signal synchronization and communication
A diversity of safe and efficient transportation options is essential to provide residents with improved job access, access to essential services, as well as other opportunities needed to maintain a high quality of life. The Atlanta region must be a place where all people have equitable opportunities to thrive.
When evaluating transportation projects for inclusion in the Atlanta Region’s Plan, the agency conducts a quantitative equity analysis to ensure that projects help foster more equitable outcomes.
Metro Atlanta is the largest freight market in the southeast. Freight traffic volume in the Atlanta region is expected to increase significantly over the next 30 years, driven by the rapid growth in international trade and the expansion of the Port of Savannah.
To fully capture the benefits that increased trade can provide, metro Atlanta must continue to maintain its position as the Southeast’s logistics hub through the development of safe multi-modal solutions that build new capacity for freight traffic and increase the efficiency of existing freight infrastructure.
The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes:
- The Atlanta Regional Freight Mobility Plan, which is designed to enhance the movement of freight and improve the region’s economic competitiveness, while minimizing the environmental and community impacts of truck movement.
- The Atlanta Strategic Truck Route Network (ASTRoMaP) is a truck route system designed to provide regional access and also guide current and future decision making on regional transportation priorities. The ASTRoMaP truck route strategically feeds into the national expressway system and aims to improve at-grade rail crossings and intersection geometrics.
Secured, long-term water supply
A clean abundant water supply is vital to the continued prosperity of the Atlanta region. Innovative approaches for better managing the supply and quality of our water resources support economic growth while also preserving the region’s natural resources. This type of integrated water management, which includes a robust education program, is a key focus of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s 2016 Plan Update.
In planning for future investments in the Atlanta region’s infrastructure, new approaches, such as addressing resiliency, must be considered to ensure those investments can adapt to changing conditions.
Innovative practices, such as green infrastructure which better mimics natural conditions, is a nationally recognized approach for protecting water resources and infrastructure from current and future challenges. The Atlanta Region’s Plan encourages coordination between governmental bodies to develop sustainable solutions that safeguard public expenditures.
The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District’s integrated management plan is instrumental in making water conservation a priority in north Georgia. This plan details 19 aggressive water conservation measures that are being implemented by local utilities, helping the region save water and sustainability manage our supplies.
Since 2000, total water use in the region has dropped by more than 10 percent, even as the population has increased by more than 1.3 million. Per capita water use in the Metro Water District has dropped by more than 30 percent since 2000.
The Atlanta region’s water conservation measures include:
- Toilet Rebate Program: Encourages the replacement of older, inefficient toilets have with water-saving models through a retrofit program that began in 2008.
- Conservation Pricing: A tiered rate structures – the more you use, the more you pay – for single-family residences encourages water conservation
- Leak Detection: Utilities are implementing new ways to find and fix leaks, such as use of sonar to inspect pipes
About the Metro Water District
The Metro Water District, staffed by the Atlanta Regional Commission, brings together 15 counties, 95 cities and more than 60 water utilities to implement an array of strategies designed to protect water quality and ensure we continue to manage and use the region’s water in a sustainable manner. Guided by science, data and good stewardship, the Metro Water District establishes integrated and comprehensive strategies to address all aspects of sustainable water management.