2018 has been a particularly exciting year in Metro Atlanta for transit and transportation. If you’d asked me ten years ago if we’d ever get to where we are today, I would’ve laughed. What you see today is a region with 13 different counties – each unique with its own strengths and challenges, all coming together to create a cohesive plan to fund long-term projects to make Metro Atlanta more livable, easier to navigate and more attractive to companies seeking to relocate.
According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, in the next 22 years, the Atlanta region will add approximately 2.5 million people – the equivalent of metro-Charlotte – bringing the region’s population to more than 8 million. Currently, we’re one of the most congested metropolitan areas in the country – every Atlantan can attest to that. Creating a way to move our current population– as well as the growth of the magnitude we’re expecting – is vital to our economic development. We’re experiencing a major shift in regional transportation and transit in the region, and it’s a truly exciting time to be a part of the transportation community.
We’re in the middle of several major projects that will bring more than 100 miles of managed lanes to our major arteries to relieve congestion. Just recently, the Northwest Corridor project opened with 29 miles of reversible express lanes along the I-75 and I-575 corridor to I-285, and several other express lane projects in the region that will actively make a difference in people’s commutes over the next few years.
The GA-400 express lane project is scheduled to begin construction in 2021, potentially reducing delay by over 19,000 hours each day in that corridor alone by 2030. Additionally, Governor Nathan Deal has committed $100 million over the next several years to buy property and build new bus rapid transit stations along GA-400. The CID is working closely with the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the North Fulton cities to maximize the effect of any state projects with our own connectivity projects and priorities.
Additionally, I co-sponsored Bill 930 earlier this year, which identified millions of state dollars for public transportation and created the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority (the ‘ATL) – a unifying board that ensures coordinated planning and funding of transit across the Metro Atlanta region. One of the appointed board’s first tasks will be to coordinate transit expansion efforts by Gwinnett, Fulton, Cobb and Dekalb counties to provide a unified and streamlined approach.
Ultimately, our local efforts can never exist in a vacuum. We must always see the big picture and work across county lines to conceive and complete projects that make sense for our residents and businesses. We’ve made great progress, but we can’t stop here. We must keep pushing forward and innovating our approach to local and regional transit and infrastructure solutions. It is a crucial piece of the economic development puzzle, and we must particularly focus our efforts on the last-mile connectivity in the next years to make North Fulton and Atlanta the most attractive and livable it can be.