ACTION ITEM

Strategically Expand Transportation System

Improving mobility in metro Atlanta is critical to ensure that the region has a high quality of life and a strong, vibrant economy. 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 that provides better roads and highways, along with expanded transit and bike-ped options, can make a real difference.

The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes funding to expand the region’s network of Express toll lanes, improve major arterial roads and intersections to address the region’s worst bottlenecks, and build sidewalks and bike lanes to make it easier to get around town without driving.

The Atlanta region is moving forward on all of these fronts. Indeed, billions of dollars are being invested over the next few years to improve metro Atlanta’s transportation network.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

MANAGED TOLL LANES CREATE RELIABLE TRAVEL OPTIONS

Express Toll Lane

Express Toll Lane

The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes the construction of a network of managed Express toll lanes on key highway corridors that provide faster, more reliable trips on the region’s busiest highway corridors. Transit vehicles, such as the regional Xpress bus system, are able to use these new lanes, offering a more reliable commuting option.

Managed toll lanes use variable-price tolling to maintain free-flowing travel, even during peak travel times, for people who carpool, take transit, or pay a toll.

Managed Toll Lane Projects in Metro Atlanta

The Atlanta Region’s Plan allocates $10.1 billion through 2040 to build, operate, maintain and pay debt service on the Express lane network. The network currently includes 68 miles of freeway lanes. The plan would add another 100 miles to the Express lane network.

I-85 North (DeKalb and Gwinnett counties)

  • Length: 26 miles
  • Usage: 24,000+ vehicles per day

I-75 South (Henry County)

  • Length: 12 miles
  • Usage: 7,000+ vehicles per day

Northwest Corridor (I-75 & I-575, Cobb & Cherokee counties)

  • Length: 30 miles
  • Ga. 400
  • I-285 – West, East and Top End
  • I-20 West
  • I-20 East
  • I-85 North (additional lanes)
Map - ARC Managed Toll Lanes Projects

Map – ARC Managed Toll Lanes Projects (click to enlarge)

How Toll Lanes Work

Most vehicles must pay a toll to use the lanes. The price rises and falls depending on the level of congestion in the highway corridor, in order to keep traffic flowing freely in the Express lanes. Buses and carpools with three or more people per vehicle can use Express lanes free of charge.

Some projects have lanes in both directions, while others use reversible lanes, with traffic directed toward town in the morning rush hour and reversed in the afternoon through signage and gates.

There are two types of toll lanes in the Atlanta region

High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes:
Vehicles with one and two occupants must pay a variable toll; carpools and transit vehicles ride free
Express Toll Lanes (ETL):
All non-transit vehicles must pay a variable toll, no matter the number of people riding.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

Improved Network of Arterial Roads and Highways

Major Roadway Improvements

Realignment of SR 92 around downtown Douglasville

he realignment of SR 92 around downtown Douglasville, currently under construction, eliminates a severe bottleneck along a key cross-regional corridor.

The region’s network of major arterial roads provide key connections to major job centers, schools, and shopping and recreation activities. The Atlanta Region’s Plan includes 185 arterial and freeway improvement projects that will help ease congestion, improve the movement of freight, and improve safety.

The projects will add 1,035 lane-miles of capacity by 2040 at a cost of $7.7 billion. One-third of the cost will be borne by local governments through SPLOSTs and other funding sources.

  • SR 92 realignment – Douglas County
  • SR 20 widening – Cherokee County and Forsyth County
  • US 19/41 (Tara Boulevard) widening Clayton County
  • SR 9 (Atlanta Highway) widening – Forsyth County
  • SR 237 (Piedmont Road) widening – City of Atlanta
  • Buford Highway widening – Gwinnett County
  • I-85 widening – Gwinnett County
  • SR 162 (Salem Road) widening – Rockdale County and Newton County

Major Intersection Improvements

Improvements to key intersections can help ease traffic bottlenecks and improve mobility in the region. These projects may include reconfiguring existing lanes, repairing or replacing bridges, reconfiguring on/off ramps to improve traffic flow, adding lanes and building new interchanges.

The Atlanta Region’s plan includes: 13 new interchanges and 22 major upgrades to existing interchanges, to be completed by 2040 at an estimated cost of $2.9 billion.

  • I-285 at SR 400 – Reconstruction (Fulton)
  • I-285 West at I-20 West – Reconstruction (City of Atlanta)
  • SR 316 – Six new interchanges (Gwinnett and Barrow)
  • I-285 East at I-20 East – reconstruction (DeKalb)
  • I-28 West at Camp Creek Parkway – Reconstruct as diverging diamond (S. Fulton)

PLAN IN ACTION: I-285 & GA 400

i-285 and SR 400 intersection

The redesign of the i-285 and SR 400 intersection

I-285 and SR 400 is one of the region’s most congested intersections, serving the fast-growing Perimeter Center area and facilitating the movement of people and goods throughout the metro area. This intersection is being totally redesigned, at a cost of about $800 million. The improvements include flyover ramps to eliminate unsafe and inefficient left-hand merges, as well as new collector-distributor lanes to separate through traffic from vehicles that are entering and exiting via ramps on both I-285 and SR 400. The project began in February 2017 and is expected to be complete in late 2020.

PLAN HIGHLIGHT

LIVABLE CENTERS INITIATIVE HELPS COMMUNITIES RE-ENVISION DEVELOPED AREAS AND IMPROVE WALKING AND BIKING OPTIONS

Roundabout at Emory Village

An LCI study helped fund a roundabout and new streetscapes in Emory Village. Today, it’s a less congested, safer area, bustling with shops and restaurants

From major employment centers like Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta, to smaller downtowns like McDonough and Suwanee, ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) program helps communities re-invest in areas that already have the infrastructure to support jobs and development.

Through a competitive grant process, LCI helps local governments, community improvement districts (CIDs) and local residents re-envision their communities in a way that increases walking and biking options, encourages healthy lifestyles, and provides improved access to transit and jobs. The goal: to reduce car trips and improve air quality in the region.

The ARC board has allocated more than $300 million for transportation projects resulting from completed LCI studies, including sidewalks, bike lanes and roadway and intersection improvements.

Since 2000, the LCI program has invested in 119 communities throughout the Atlanta region, providing funding for planning studies and transportation projects, such as sidewalks and intersection improvements.

PLAN IN ACTION

Downtown Douglasville

Downtown Douglasville

The city of Douglasville received its first LCI grant in 2001. Since then, the city has steadily implemented its plan with an eye toward creating a more walkable downtown – and providing healthier lifestyle options for Douglasville residents.

The city’s has built sidewalks and made other pedestrian-related improvements. But the city also realized that residents needed interesting places to walk to if the Douglasville was to build a pedestrian culture. With business and redevelopment partners, the city built a conference center, reconfigured Highway 92, and redeveloped several downtown properties, most recently turning an historic car dealership into a co-working space called the Station Loft Works.

Downtown Woodstock

Downtown Woodstock

One of LCI’s greatest success stories is downtown Woodstock, a once sleepy town on the region’s northern edge. Today, it boasts a growing and lively mix of shops, offices and housing. For residents, a night on the town now means staying close to home and enjoying all the new options.

 It is the policy of ARC to:

  • Prioritize solutions that improve multimodal connectivity
  • Direct federal funding for road capacity expansion to the regional strategic transportation system, including the managed lanes system
  • Road expansion projects in rural areas should support economic competitiveness by improving multi-modal connectivity between centers
  • Implement a complete streets approach on roadway projects that is sensitive to the existing community