The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) forecasts that the 21-county Atlanta region will grow to 8.6 million people by 2050, adding 2.9 million to the current tally over the next three decades. How can we keep pace with this growth? Between now and then, local governments, community organizations, transportation agencies and others are focusing on key transportation projects that will improve region-wide connectivity, reduce traffic congestion, enhance safety and even increase access to green spaces. From new roads to new bus routes, here are some highlights of what’s in the works this year.
1. MARTA Targets Winter 2022 to Begin Construction on Summerhill BRT
MARTA, the public transportation operator to the metro Atlanta area, is planning to build a bus rapid transit project in the Summerhill neighborhood, with construction expected to begin in winter 2022.
Bus rapid transit (BRT) is a bus service that uses dedicated lanes unhindered by other traffic for faster, direct arrivals. For the Summerhill project, new bus-only lanes will be added along approximately 85% of the route, helping the buses get passengers to their destinations quickly and on schedule.
MARTA plans to start service for the BRT route in August 2024. The route is 2.4 miles, beginning at the Five Points MARTA station and extending south to the Summerhill neighborhood near the Georgia State University stadium.
2. Georgia Tech, MARTA Collaboration Sparks On-Demand Multimodal Transit Pilot
Atlanta will soon host a pilot program for an innovative approach to transportation that could make public transit faster, more convenient and more accessible, especially for those in underserved communities.
For many people, public transit is inconvenient because the nearest station or stop is a long walk from their homes. This pilot program from Georgia Tech and MARTA aims to address that problem by introducing a new form of transit called an on-demand multimodal transit system. In this system, users can call on-demand shuttles to pick them up in their neighborhoods and bring them to the nearest train or bus stop and vice versa. This pilot program will be rolled out this winter in Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties and Atlanta.
3. Finish Line Approaches for Multi-Year I-285/GA 400 Interchange Project
Construction around the interchange between I-285 and GA 400 is in its final stages. This Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) project, known as Transform 285/400, will be completed near the end of 2022.
The major highway construction project, which has been underway for a few years, is projected to save commuters 12,500 hours of driving time per day from the addition of new collector-distributor roads and bridge and interchange improvements. When construction wraps at the end of 2022, traffic will substantially lighten for 4.3 miles of I-285 and 6.2 miles of GA 400.
4. ATL DOT Breaks Ground on Safety Improvements Along DeKalb Ave. Corridor
DeKalb Avenue, the 4-mile corridor linking Decatur to Atlanta, is getting a much-needed upgrade to make it safer for all roadway users. Construction began in the final months of 2021 and will continue throughout 2022, with expected completion in fall 2023.
Throughout the project, DeKalb Avenue will be repaved and have potholes filled. The project will also include traffic signal coordination, removal of the avenue’s reversible lane and the addition of left-turn lanes at critical intersections. Further enhancements prioritize new safety features for people walking and riding bikes along the corridor, with new bicycle lanes and other upgrades intended to slow traffic.
5. The Atlanta BeltLine Makes Progress on the 22-Mile Multi-Use Trail Loop
The Atlanta BeltLine is continuing to grow. In 2022, the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and the Atlanta Beltline Partnership will begin work on a new segment of the transformative multi-use path’s southside will be built. This section of trail will start at the existing break in the course south of Glenwood Avenue and extend to Boulevard. Construction is expected to begin in the latter half of 2022.
And if you’re waiting for the entire south side to be connected, you may not have to wait for long. A federal grant was recently approved to finish the rest of the BeltLine’s southside, and construction on that final portion is expected to begin in 2023. Meanwhile, the westside trail construction between Law Street and Huff Road is progressing and is expected to wrap up in early 2022.
6. Green Space Plans, Pedestrian Developments Top Priorities for Communities
There are several projects in the works that, while they likely won’t break ground in 2022, are receiving additional attention from city planners because of funding updates.
Chief among them is a proposed park over the downtown I-75/I-85 Connector known as “The Stitch.” This park would bring 14 acres of greenspace to downtown and bring neighborhoods divided by the highway back together. The proposal was recently awarded $900,000 from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity, or RAISE, program.
Another project to keep an eye on is Tucker Path, a proposed 32-mile multi-use path throughout the city of Tucker, GA. The construction of small segments of the trail has already been approved. ARC recently approved an update to the Transportation Improvement Program that included adjustments to the path’s construction schedule, among other things.
Transportation in and around Atlanta is improving every year, with more routes, trails and innovative approaches to transit always in the pipeline. At GCO, we’re excited to help you navigate it all. Learn more.