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Transportation

Evan Jang / WABE

People experiencing food insecurity – not knowing where their next meal will come from – mostly live around downtown Atlanta and south of I-20.

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But that's changing. A new analysis finds that food insecurity will increase more quickly in the suburbs to the east and west as numbers decrease in-town.

Outside metro Atlanta, GDOT launched CHAMP, a new highway assistance program for the major interstates.
Courtesy of GDOT

Drivers in metro Atlanta have come to rely on HERO units, Highway Emergency Response Operators.

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Now Georgia’s Department of Transportation has launched a similar program for the rest of the state’s major highways.

CHAMP, the Coordinated Highway Assistance and Maintenance Program (CHAMP) is similar to HERO. However, HERO, with its signature bright orange trucks are primarily in metro Atlanta. That program's focus is emergency response and traffic control.   

The Atlanta Braves stadium at SunTrust Park is nearly complete. Comcast is the major anchor tenant at the new complex known as The Battery.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The Atlanta Braves said Wednesday they've got nearly all of the bases covered when it comes to dealing with traffic for opening day at SunTrust Park.

The team is adding parking, providing free shuttles and launching mobile apps to help fans get to and from the stadium and surrounding retail area known as The Battery Atlanta.

GDOT Transportation Management Center in Atlanta
Alison Guillory / WABE

The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) and Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) plan to open Georgia’s first “reversible" express toll lanes on Jan. 28.  

They include two additional lanes along 12 miles of Interstate-75, south of the city of Atlanta.

Reversible lanes will let drivers drive north toward the city during the morning rush hour and south the rest of the day, between 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Transportation Technology

The Port of Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to an arc of inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, to St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley. Key to expanding rail service is a $128M project linking Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards.
Courtesy of Stephen B. Morton/Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority says one of its top priorities this year is building what it calls the "Mid-American Arc."

It's a $128 million project that would connect the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail yards leaving the Port of Savannah.

The arc project will double rail capacity in Savannah and improve its link to Atlanta and cities in the Midwest.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Atlanta is a car city. That’s how the roads are built. Transit is limited. There hasn’t been a strong network of paths for day-to-day cycling. Things are spread out.

But voters have approved spending on changing the city’s transportation infrastructure in a bond package last year and a sales tax last week.

Now big changes are coming to some of Atlanta’s major roads, in the form of an urban planning idea called complete streets.

Alison Guillory / WABE

If you have trouble hearing announcements by MARTA train conductors, you're not alone.

MARTA plans to spend $40 million to install 300 new display boards, add 500 more speakers and replace 4,000 older speakers to address complaints about its audiovisual system.

The new signs, which will double the number it currently has, will be larger than the current signs. And instead of a black backdrop, the signs will look like TV screens with ads, stock information, news and other updates.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Advocates for pedestrian safety are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation on a statewide action plan, and they're asking people to share their walking habits in an online survey.

The Atlanta nonprofit group PEDS will use the survey results, along with data on crashes, injuries and fatalities to learn where the biggest problems are and what changes people would like in their areas, said PEDS pedestrian safety program manager Kemberli Sargent.    

Alison Guillory / WABE

In November, residents of Fulton County and the city of Atlanta could vote to fix roads, sidewalks and intersections. That vote follows $250 million in infrastructure upgrades that Atlanta voters approved last year, which the city has already begun working on.

For 20 years, leaders from the Atlanta region have been visiting other North American cities to get ideas on how best to address our metro area’s toughest challenges. The group of 110 leaders just returned from Dallas – and here’s what some of them learned.

The last time the LINK delegation visited Dallas in 1999, the booming Texas town had just begun building its light rail system – DART. At the time, it had about 20 miles of track in the ground. By comparison, MARTA – Atlanta’s heavy rail system – was nearing 48 miles.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Fulton County cities are narrowing down what transportation projects they’d fund if voters approve a new tax in November. Fulton residents who live outside the city of Atlanta could have the option to vote for a three-quarters of a penny sales tax to put money toward road and bridge repair, sidewalks, bike paths and congestion reduction.

Alison Guillory / WABE

This week, Fulton County residents can weigh in on how they would spend money on transportation. The money would come from a proposed sales tax that will be on the ballot in November.

The Georgia Legislature passed a bill allowing a vote on the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or TSPLOST, in the 2016 legislative session. Now, the cities in Fulton County are putting together lists of what projects would be funded.

Fulton County Communications

Fulton County Chairman John Eaves said he wants to bring more venture capital investments to Fulton.

At his State of the County address Thursday, he outlined plans to create a “special technical advisory council” to help build on the tech industry that’s already established in Georgia.  

“This council will help make Fulton County more attractive for investments in technology companies and make South Fulton a destination for economic ingenuity,” he said.

As part of ATLTransit's social media campaign, a tweet with this image said, "I left my house after the sun came up to drive to work and actually got there on time! #AprilFools #ILoveATLTraffic"
Courtesy of ATLTransit.org

MARTA and five other regional transit agencies have teamed up on a social media campaign to make you laugh and encourage you to take public transit.

One of the videos features an elderly woman bragging about all of the curse words she has picked up while driving in Atlanta.

Northbound traffic on I75-I85 headed Downtown
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Atlanta area does not have the best public transportation options, so many residents face long, solitary drives to work.

A new study finds this may be having a deadly effect on our health.

The study, published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, found that Georgia has 5,600 excessive deaths each year.

MARTA says it's putting plans to develop land near Oakland City station on hold.
Alison Guillory / WABE

MARTA has plans to build mixed-used transit-oriented development projects including apartments and shops near six of its stations, but it's putting one of the projects on hold.

MARTA officials said it received only one proposal to redevelop land near its Oakland City stop. They said the plan included mostly residential units with some retail.

But last year, Oakland residents said they wanted a mixed-use development with market rate housing.

Tim Adams / flickr.com/36217981@N02

Georgia lawmakers will decide this week on the fate of a bid to get more money for expanding MARTA. A bill that would have allowed DeKalb and Fulton County voters to approve a tax for MARTA funding died earlier in the legislative session.

Now, there's a bill that would allow that vote just in the city of Atlanta.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker, who had spoken out against the broader MARTA bill, says he supports the new one.

GRTA

Next week, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority is accepting public comments on the commuter bus service system's first major overhaul since it launched in 2004.  

GRTA's external affairs officer Matt Markham said the state transit agency is looking to add a new bus route to Perimeter Center and streamline some routes.

Courtesy of Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District

Gwinnett County is updating its long-term comprehensive transportation plan, and it's looking for residents to tell them what their transportation needs are.

The county has scheduled six public meetings around the county starting March 15 as part of a campaign called Destination 2040. It is also looking for responses to an online survey that will be open for three months.

Opening day riders on the Atlanta Streetcar.
Ryan Nabulsi / twinlensatl.com / for WABE

The city of Atlanta says, starting next month, there will be a new way to pay for the Atlanta Streetcar: a mobile app.

This is after a long delay in getting the app ready for riders.

Mayor Kasim Reed said last spring that one reason the streetcar would be free for all of 2015 was to allow for time to get a mobile payment app ready.

John H Gray / flickr.com/8391775@N05

Amtrak is considering someday running a daily train from Atlanta to Dallas.

Right now, to get to Texas from Atlanta by train, passengers have to go to New Orleans, then connect to a train that only runs three days a week, explained Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.

“[The potential route] would give you a daily connection to Texas that would be faster than the current route, and more direct,” he said.

Alison Guillory / WABE

A funny thing happened on the way to the transportation committee. Last week, state Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, introduced a bill that proposes expanding MARTA in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Usually, bills that deal with transportation are assigned to the transportation committee. But Beach's bill was referred to a committee called State and Local Government Operations (SLGO).

Sen. John Albers, R-Roswell, is chairman. He staunchly opposes expanding MARTA.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Expanding Atlanta's transit options would inject more than $5 billion into the economy and create thousands of jobs, according to a new report from the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Georgia Transportation Alliance. 

The report focuses on three proposed MARTA expansions: the Clifton corridor, Georgia 400, and along Interstate-20 Eastbound toward the Mall at Stonecrest. It also includes a fourth set of projects, yet to be named.

Brenna Beech / WABE

The Georgia House of Representatives approved changes Thursday to the state’s budget, adding about $1 billion in spending through the middle of 2016.

Three-fourths of that additional money is for transportation projects. It comes from new taxes on gas and hotel stays.

The mid-year budget changes also include an extra $91 million for public health care programs and about $100 million for education.

The adjustments passed the House without any “no” votes, and they are expected to move quickly through the Senate.

Arnulfo Franco, File / Associated Press

A huge project to expand the Panama Canal, allowing larger ships to pass through it, should be completed later this year. And many of those ships are likely to eventually come to the Port of Savannah.

“We consider Savannah one of our key partners in this network, and your growth is our growth,” Francisco Miguez, an executive vice president with the Panama Canal Authority, told attendees at the SMC3 conference in Atlanta on Monday.

And Atlanta is part of that equation too, said Troels Adrian with the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Alison Guillory / WABE

WABE’s news staff members are sharing what topics they plan on tracking in the New Year.

Producer Kate Sweeney says she is watching Atlanta's changing transportation.

“Specifically, I'm thinking of Atlanta streetcar," Sweeney says. "This great big expansion has just been announced and there are all kinds of questions swirling around, not the least of which is, how it's going to get paid for?”

Features Editor Susanna Capelouto says she is worried about traffic.

Brenna Beech / WABE

Fulton County's Commission Chairman John Eaves said there is progress on getting a countywide agreement on how to spend up to $1.3 billion in potential transportation funding.

A new state law requires the mayors of each of Fulton's cities -- and the county commissioners -- to agree on a plan before the proposed penny sales tax goes to referendum.

They met Monday to try to come up with a resolution on how to split the money and how much, if any of it, would go to fund public transit. If all the mayors don't agree, the county could lose $325 million.

Commentary: Time For Region To Be MARTA Smart

Dec 4, 2015
Brenna Beech / WABE

   

Here we go again. Another year. Another transportation debate.

This time, Fulton County wants a five-year penny sales tax for transportation.

The idea is gaining steam among the mayors of the various Fulton cities who want new funding -- primarily for roads.

The exception is Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who wants funding to expand the city’s streetcar network -- especially along the Atlanta BeltLine.

Ryan Nabulsi / WABE

Walkable communities are big in real estate. Websites list a home’s “walk score” along with how many bathrooms it has. Now, some of Atlanta’s once car-centric, sprawling suburban neighborhoods are trying to change with the trend. But it can be a struggle to become more walkable for places that weren’t designed with pedestrians in mind.

‘Sidewalks To Nowhere’

Su-Laine Yeo Brodsky / flickr.com/syeo

The biggest concern for people in the Atlanta area is transportation, according to a survey released by the Atlanta Regional Commission on Friday morning. Crime came in second place. The economy, in third, has become less of a concern as it’s improved.  

That all makes sense to Mike Alexander, director of the research and analytics division of the ARC. He said people generally feel upbeat.

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