Transportation Reform in Georgia
Decades of sprawling growth and an auto-centric culture have saddled metro Atlanta with some of the most congested roads, dirtiest air, and longest commutes in the country.
As part of our regional transportation reform work, SELC is working to steer Georgia away from asphalt-centered transportation policies and toward solutions that strengthen communities, reduce air and water pollution, protect sensitive ecosystems, and decrease global warming emissions.
Looking Beyond New Lanes
Facing congested roadways and limited transportation funds, metro Atlanta has seen a push toward construction of toll lanes on the region’s interstates. Among other problems, these toll lanes fail to provide a long term transportation solution, provide more space for solo drivers, and because of their price could be less accessible to low income drivers.
On smaller roads and in rural areas, freight traffic and economic development have been used to justify widening or rerouting existing roads. However, these road expansion projects often disrupt communities, impact natural resources, and further sprawling growth.
SELC is weighing in on these projects to ensure they provide transportation choices that encourage carpooling and transit use, minimize harmful environmental impacts, and avoid disrupting adjacent communities.
Supporting Investment in Transit
SELC is also working to advance legislative and policy efforts to support the growing demand for a more diverse transportation system and more robust non-driving options. SELC and our partners are striving for additional investments in transit, bicycle, and pedestrian projects, safety improvements for drivers and non-drivers, and projects that allow for greater accessibility to job centers and transit stations.
For example, in November 2016 the City of Atlanta successfully passed two transportation funding initiatives. This funding will make a transformative investment in the City’s transportation infrastructure and will be the most significant expansion of MARTA since the mass transit system was initially built in the 1970s.
Building on this and other successes will continue to open access to a variety of transit choices, such as the expansion of MARTA into Clayton County, expanding transit service in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, adding lines to the Atlanta streetcar, and expanding rail options for the Atlanta BeltLine―an urban redevelopment and mobility venture that ties together public parks, multi-use trails, and transit by re-using 22-miles of historic railroad corridors circling downtown neighborhoods.
Successful execution of these projects is helping to chart a new path for metro Atlanta. As other counties and cities look to Atlanta as a model of how to expand transportation options beyond building more roads, long-term planning will be critical to address the region’s steady population growth. SELC will continue working with local partner groups, city and state agencies, elected officials, and leaders in the business community to advocate for an inclusive public engagement and identify funding for projects that will expand Atlanta’s transportation choices in an unprecedented way.
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