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Guest donaltopablo

GRTA board shelves bus transit plan

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A bit of a surprise coming out of Atlanta, but the city of Atlanta doesn't like the plan because it basically ran entirely up the freeway and didn't support "land use plans" for the corridor. I think this is a positive move by the city. It is disappoiting to see the Vinnings Association President, however, feel that HOV lane on the freeway as the best option. Thumbs down to that.

GRTA board shelves bus transit plan

By JULIE B. HAIRSTON

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority board put the brakes on a proposal Wednesday to use rubber-tired buses designed to ride like trains in high-occupancy vehicle lanes on I-75 north of Atlanta.

The board postponed a vote to establish its preferred transit option between intown Atlanta and the Town Center area of Cobb County after Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, Sierra Club director Bryan Hager and several board members objected to the plan.

Those objecting Wednesday urged the GRTA board to reconsider an alternate option to use the same vehicles, known as bus rapid transit, running in lanes dedicated to that use. That option would route the transit line along a portion of Cobb Parkway and Marietta Boulevard before moving closer to I-75 farther north.

In a letter to GRTA Executive Director Steve Stancil, Franklin said the bus rapid transit option would support city-approved land use plans for that portion of Atlanta.

"We are concerned that the [study] work to date does not put sufficient emphasis on land use policies or recognize the significant potential to attract major transit ridership through development patterns that concentrate high density employment and housing," Franklin wrote.

But fans of the HOV bus option, which includes many residents of the I-75 corridor, stressed it is the least expensive of three options studied and said it is likely to attract the most riders.

The HOV alternative "has the best chance of receiving widespread support in Cobb County because it is the best way to meet the needs of Cobb County commuters," said Ron Sifen, president of the Vinings Homeowners Association.

The GRTA board plans a tour of the potential route and a work session on it for Feb. 3.

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Actually, when money was available, MARTA expanded regularly. I think the latest lack of transit development in Atlanta has been related to two things:

Lack of state/regional funding to support additional projects outside of MARTA, something most of areas don't have a problem with.

Fulton and Dekalbs lack of renewing the penny sales tax, which leaves MARTA without the ability to get bonds to further expand or develop.

I think there is plenty of interest in building transit projects, however, there is no revenue stream for them. It's coming, but it left us a solid 10 years with no way to expand the transit.

Then there is the burbs, but who cares about them.

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The burbs have very little power left in determining transportation issues for the metro area as it is now, and has been since the late 90's. Atlanta's mostly through with unneeded freeway expansion as far as I'm concerned. The transit projects on the board now are win-win situations, particularly the two keystones in the future system: the Atlanta Beltline and commuter rail.

Atlanta got $36 billion guaranteed from the feds for the next 25 years a few months back, and around $19 billion is set aside for transit. As expensive as rail is to build, that's just an obscene amount of money for ANY area to receive when it comes to transportation. These things will be getting built. It's just a matter of when. Atlanta is running out of options as it is when it comes to increasing capacity. Expanding the freeways any further, especially on the northside, is now less cost effective than just using existing lines for commuter rail. The ROW required for expansion of most of the northside interstates is absolutely insane and totally unjustified.

I predict transit expansion, particularly the two projects I mentioned, will get rolling again in the next two years with the upswing of the economy.

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$19B is quite a large amount of money. I am amazed by it. Are they going to start building something with those kind of funds, or are local politics and/or other conditions preventing this from happening?

I think the major holdback at the moment for commitment to major mass trnsit projects is lack of decision making. Gov Perdue has been waffling on some of these transit issues since taking office. The DOT has been in a state of disarray with it's leadership changing and GRTA/ARC both have been unsure if they would be disbanded under Perdue.

I think some of these issues are stating to fade. It's really now down to planning the specifics and putting up the matching state funds. Also, there is some concern not about the cost to build the lines, but the cost to the state to fund their operations if they loose significant amounts of money.

I'm not saying I agree, but that's my understanding of the situation. My biggest concern is that outside the "core" of Atlanta, I believe they are spending a lot of time building on highway plans to the burbs, where even the mass transit would be auto dependent and missing out on the opportunity for the system to go anywhere. I like Shirley Franklin idea that the transit needs to promote land use changes, not simply something along the freeway.

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