ARC Update to its PLAN 2040 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) Passes ARC and GRTA Board, Will Invest $59 Billion in Metro Atlanta Transportation


ARC Plan 2040 Update
ARC Plan 2040 Update
In a step forward for transportation planning in the Metro Region, the Boards of both the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) approved the ARC’s PLAN 2040 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) update, along with the accompanying short-term Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) for high-priority projects.
The Plan 2040 RTP is a $59 billion plan for transportation spending for the 18-county Metro Atlanta region through the year 2040. The ARC Board of Directors approved this plan on March 26th, and the GRTA Board approved it on April 9th. The plan must now be approved by the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration.
According to Kerry Armstrong, current ARC Chairman, current Council for Quality Growth Executive Committee Member, and former Chairman of the Council:
“ARC is excited that this plan update will help relieve congestion at some of the region’s worst bottlenecks, while also providing more options to residents by supporting transit and other reliable alternative commuting methods. These projects will improve the quality of life for our region’s citizens, and will do so sooner rather than later.”
Although the plan encompasses some $59 billion of projects, both the ARC and GRTA acknowledge that the plan does not include enough funding to cover all of Metro Atlanta’s transportation needs. Over 70% of the $59 billion in the plan is needed just to maintain the metro region’s existing transportation network, leaving only $18 billion for expansion of our transportation system between now and 2040. This is not enough funding to meet transportation needs, particularly given the ARC’s projection that 3 million more people will move to Metro Atlanta region by 2040.
The Plan 2040 RTP update does, however, fund several projects over the next five years. The highest-priority projects are included in the six-year Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP); this plan includes a guideline for $7 billion in transportation projects that will be completed in the next several years. These TIP projects are funded from several different funding streams, including the ARC and the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ), among others.
To see a full list of TIP projects, click HERE.
Several new projects, which will all be underway in the next three years, will be funded by the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ). To qualify for this funding, these programs must meet certain air quality and congestion relief standards. RTP projects funded under this program include:
  • $9.6 million toward diverging diamond interchanges at I-75 and Windy Hill Road in Cobb County and at I-285 and Camp Creek Parkway in Fulton County.
  • $24 million in signal sychronizations and traffic management systems along key freight and commuting corridors around the region.
  • $44 million to extend HOT lanes on I-85 from Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road.
  • $11.4 million to reduce MARTA rail wait times from 15 minutes to 10 minutes during morning and afternoon rush hours.
  •  $3.6 million to replace diesel MARTA buses with natural gas buses in south Fulton County.
  • $15.2 million for operations support of the Atlanta Streetcar scheduled to open in May.
The RTP also includes other critical projects outside of the CMAQ program that will also get underway between now and 2017, including:
  • $935 million for express toll lanes along I-75 from Akers Mill Road to Hickory Grove Road and along I-575 from I-75 to Sixes Road.
  • $557.8 million for express toll lanes along I-75 from Ga. 138 to two miles south of Ga. 155.
  • $112 million for extension of existing express toll lanes along I-85 from  Old Peachtree Road to Hamilton Mill Road
  • $65.5 million for an underpass and realignment of Highway 92 in Douglasville.
  • $3 million for an underpass at Old Covington Highway and Ga. 138.
  • $8.7 million for pedestrian/bicycle facilities and upgrades along Juniper Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue in the City of Atlanta.
  • $5.4 million for medians and pedestrian/bicycle improvements along Buford Highway and in Suwanee in Gwinnett County.
  • $3.2 million for pedestrian/bicycle facilities along Franklin Road in Cobb County.
  • $1.6 million to improve intersections and safety along Ga. 6 in Cobb and Douglas counties, which carries truck traffic to and from the largest freight rail facility in the Southeast.

To see a full list of all projects in the RTP update, click HERE.

Overall, the PLAN 2040 RTP update has been lauded by both elected officials and government staff as a well-designed plan that shows regional cooperation and opportunities for public participation. Toby Carr, Georgia’s state transportation planning director, also praised the plan’s allocation of limited resources in innovative ways. According to Carr:

“This is a fantastic plan, a goal oriented plan that improves the movement of goods and people. It leverages public private partnerships in a way we never have before. We’re working more closely with our CIDs [community improvement districts], and we’re allocating a limited resource in ways that take us to a new and very positive areas.” 

In the wake of the 2012 TSPLOST defeat and in light of current and future transportation challenges, it is critical that the Metro Region works together to improve our transportation system. The Council commends the ARC in its passage of this plan at the state level, and we look forward to working closely with our governments and elected officials to continue to improve transportation in the Metro Region.