The Atlanta Regional Commission Board today approved a major update to the Atlanta Region’s Plan that allocates $173 billion in federal, state, and local funding through 2050 to improve mobility and safety in metro Atlanta.
Notable projects in Douglas that will begin in the next decade include:
- Widening Lee Road-South Sweetwater Road to four lanes with upgrades that include curb-and-gutter drainage, urban shoulders, a raised median, and a multi-use trail. Construction is set for a first phase in fiscal 2022, with a second phase to begin by 2030.
- Continued federal funding for the new Douglas County transit system, through fiscal 2021.
- Developing an extension of Chattahoochee Hill Country Regional Greenway Trail from Boundary Waters Park to Sweetwater Creek State Park, with construction set for 2024.
The plan aims help keep pace with growth in Douglas. ARC forecasts Douglas will add more than 51,000 people by 2050, bringing the county’s total population to more than 188,000.
The ARC board approved the funding allocation as part of a broad update of the transportation portion of the Atlanta Region’s Plan. The Atlanta Region’s Plan is a long-range blueprint that details the investments, programs and services needed to ensure metro Atlanta’s future success by providing world-class infrastructure, fostering healthy, livable communities, and developing a competitive economy.
The plan, developed in close collaboration with local governments and transportation agencies and with robust public input, includes projects and programs designed to improve roads and highways, enhance transit options, expand the region’s network of multi-use trails, and encourage alternative commuting options such as carpooling and teleworking.
“The Atlanta Region’s Plan offers a balanced, strategic approach to keep our region moving forward, even as our population continues to grow,” said Doug Hooker, Executive Director of ARC. “This plan will help metro Atlanta remain competitive, with a high quality of life, in the decades to come.”
The transportation element of the Atlanta Region’s Plan is designed to accommodate significant growth that is expected to occur over the next three decades. ARC forecasts the 20-county region will add 2.9 million people by 2050, bringing the metro area’s total population to 8.6 million.
The plan’s potential impact is significant, from cleaner air to reduced congestion. For example, annual transit ridership is expected to more than double, from 510,520 riders today to over 1.1 million in 2050. And tailpipe emissions will decrease by 21,182 tons per year.
The full list of transportation projects, including an interactive map can be found at atlantaregionsplan.org. Here are some highlights:
- Maintenance and safety: About $102 billion, or nearly 60% of the total, is earmarked to maintain and upgrade the infrastructure that’s already in place. Projects include resurfacing roads, repairing bridges, and replacing aging buses and rail cars.
- New transit options: $11 billion is programmed for transit expansion projects, including high capacity transit in Clayton County, expansion of the City of Atlanta’s streetcar network, and bus rapid transit lines in Atlanta and Clayton. Longer-range projects include a bus rapid transit lines in Gwinnett and Cobb counties.
- Mobility alternatives: About $10 billion is dedicated to projects and programs that reduce congestion by encouraging alternative ways of getting around the region. This includes expansion of the region’s bike-ped trails and funding for ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative, which helps communities transform into more vibrant places where it’s possible to walk from home to work to the store or restaurant
- Tackling traffic bottlenecks: The Regional Transportation Plan provides about $27 billion for key interchange and highway improvements throughout metro Atlanta. Highway projects due to start construction in the next decade include Xpress lanes on the top-end Perimeter, I-285 East, and I-285 West, and reconstruction of the two interchanges where I-20 meets I-285.