Big decisions ahead for northwest corridor to Cobb — namely bus or rail

By Maria Saporta

Bus or rail? I-75 or U.S. 41?

Those are just two of the questions that are being asked on how to connect Cobb County with the Arts Center MARTA Station.

A program was held Monday evening at the Woodruff Arts Center where representatives from Cobb County and the City of Atlanta talked about the proposed alternatives that exist to serve people traveling along the northwest corridor.

Cobb County has received a grant from the Federal Transit Administration to conduct an “Alternatives Analysis” along the corridor.. Those options include enhanced bus service, a dedicated busway, bus rapid transit and light rail.

Four routes were presented — all of them connecting to the Arts Center MARTA Station primarily along the I-75 corridor until it gets close to the Cobb County line. Then there are couple of options that would continue up the I-75 corridor and other options going along the U.S. 41 corridor.

A decision on the preferred option is expected to made in September, and the meeting on Monday was held to get public input. A couple of other meetings will be held in the next month or so.

This corridor has had quite a history. A few years ago, former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin had a major disagreement with Cobb County over plans that had been proposed at the time.

At the time, Cobb had wanted to have a rail line along I-75 with only one or two stops within the City of Atlanta.

Franklin argued that such a line would be geared to serve Cobb County residents rather than people living in the city. She also questioned aligning the transit line along I-75 rather than an existing city street, such as Northside Drive.

A rail line along an interstate minimizes the economic redevelopment potential because few town center type developments are located on highway interchanges. Instead, town centers tend to be developed in people-oriented environments that encourage walkability rather than automobile-oriented places that accommodate cars.

Faye DiMassimo, Cobb County’s director of transportation, said the team is working closely with the City of Atlanta to determine the alignment as well as the location of the transit stations.

Joshua Mello, assistant director of transportation for Atlanta’s Department of Planning, confirmed that there’s been a high level of cooperation between the city and Cobb County.

He also said that there would be opportunities to redevelop areas near Atlantic Station, Howell Mill Road, West Paces Ferry Road and Mount Paran Road.

In each of those cases, the transit line could veer off from the interstate to serve existing commercial centers that could be redeveloped into walkable urban communities.

But a big question remains whether the preferred alternative will be on tires (some kind of bus service) or on rail.

The answer to that question becomes especially confusing when considering the relationship between this project and the project that’s included in the Transportation Improvement Act that will go before voters on July 31.

DiMassimo insisted that the “Alternatives Analysis” is different from the TIA project list that was approved by the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable. In what has become a particularly controversial item on the TIA’s project list, there is $689 million that’s been set aside for “high capacity transit.”

That funding would pay for a Bus Rapid Transit line from Ackworth to Arts Center, but it would not pay from a light rail line between Arts Center to the Cumberland Mall area. The big question is whether light rail has become a long shot for the northwest corridor.

“We have not at all discounted the light rail alternative,” DiMassimo insisted.

Much will depend on whether the “Alternatives Analysis” will recommend light rail and whether the region can get additional federal funding to upgrade transit service in the corridor from bus to rail.

To weigh in on this discussion, please visit the Connect Cobb website.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

72 replies
  1. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Bus or rail? I-75 or U.S. 41?”
     
    How about NEITHER!!!!
     
    Both I-75 and US 41/Cobb Parkway are horrific right-of-ways in which to implement increased rail transit options as the density required to sustain a rail transit just simply does not exist along those auto-dominated right-of-ways.
     
    US Hwy 41 is an aging auto-centric development-dominated right-of-way whose best option for “redevelopment” would likely either to be converted into a superartery with local and express lanes, widened to six through lanes, have some continuous right lanes added to the most congested sections or maybe just left alone.  In no way, shape or form is US 41/Cobb Parkway the type of right-of-way/corridor that could sustain a high-frequency rail line over the long-term.
     
    The I-75 right-of-way is an even worse option for rail transit because rail transit lines that use the right-of-ways of high-speed expressways rarely, if ever, spark walkable, more transit-friendly development because as Ms. Saporta so aptly put it “A rail line along an interstate minimizes the economic redevelopment potential because few town center type developments are located on highway interchanges. Instead, town centers tend to be developed in people-oriented environments that encourage walkability rather than automobile-oriented places that accommodate cars”.
     
    A freeway is not an inviting environment for pedustrians and is the not likely to attract any type of walkable transit-friendly development that generates foot traffic and encourages people to get out of their cars.  If anything, the most viable transit options for I-75 and US 41 are express commuter bus lines, at best. 
     
    Both the US 41 and I-75 corridors are good for nothing more than driving through, at best (and being stuck in hellacious gridlock, on average).Report

    Reply
  2. SteveBrown says:

    I am not sure that anything depends upon the AA study.  The Cobb government has already insisted on building the project.  City of Atlanta used to contain around 25% of the region’s jobs, but the number hovers around 6% now.  Why are we looking at all these “hub and spoke” projects when the transportation needs are lateral movements?Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @SteveBrown
      The Cobb County government, while backing light rail on US 41/Cobb Parkway early-on, changed their tune after a fierce public backlash against the idea.  Cobb County Commissioner Tim Lee, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews and virtually all of the Cobb state and federal legislative delegations now fervently back switching the $689 million in funds from the rail or bus transit lines originally proposed in the US 41/I-75 Northwest Corridor to the proposed reversible HOT lanes on I-75 that Governor Deal backs strongly.
       http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/17274789/article-Changing-lanes–Lee-asks-to-switch-funds-for-reversible-lanes?instance=home_news_left
       
      http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2012/01/24/drop-rail-link-and-restore-reversible-lanes-says-cobb-commission-chair-tim-lee/Report

      Reply
    • j_midtown says:

       @SteveBrown
      Not sure where you’re getting your data, but the latest ARC data I’ve seen shows CoAtlanta with about 18% of the region’s jobs which doesn’t even count Emory (outside the city limits).  Down, but still the largest concentration in the metro. Of the top 10 employment centers in the region, three – Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead – are in the city proper with a fourth, Emory intown (City of Atlanta-adjacent if you will) and another, Hartfield, also adjacent and already connected to what little fixed guideway transit the region has.  Lateral movement certainly needs to be addressed, but the hub still exists.Report

      Reply
      • ScottNAtlanta says:

        I’ve asked for proof of the numbers Steve throws out here and usually only get “crickets” (nothing if you dont get the metaphor)Report

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  3. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    The best option for bringing rail transit online in the I-75/US 41 Northwest Corridor is to implement regional commuter rail service and/or possibly some type of light rail service, if applicable, within the existing CSX/W&A and Georgia Northeastern Railroad freight rail line right-of-ways that run through the heart of Cobb County and into the heart of Cherokee County and connects historic suburban and exurban cities and towns, all of whom seek to make their historic downtowns more walkable and transit-friendly.
     
    The CSX/old-Western & Atlantic railroad line that connects Downtown Atlanta with downtown village-like historic town centers in Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Emerson, Cartersville, Kingston, Adairsville, Calhoun, Resaca, Dalton, Ringgold on up into Downtown Chattanooga and its spur Georgia Northeastern Railroad line that runs up into the North Georgia Mountains by way of village-like historic downtowns in suburban and exurban cities and towns in Woodstock, Holly Springs, Canton, Ball Ground, Jasper, Ellijay, Blue Ridge and Mineral Bluff both have the potential to be major commuter rail lines that have a meaningful and lasting impact on regional development patterns in a very positive way by potentially changing a very fiercely stubborn auto-centric suburban/exurban I-75 Northwest Corridor (ultraconservative Cobb and Cherokee Counties) into a much more transit-centric corridor with walkable development centered on suburban and exurban commuter rail transit stations. Report

    Reply
      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @Burroughston Broch
        Good point.  It should also be noted that much (though not necessarily all) of the actual right-of-way of the CSX-W&A that contains only one track is physically wide enough to accommodate another track and in some places it is even wide enough to accommodate two more sets of tracks between Bolton in NW Atlanta and Junta in Cartersville.
         
        Much of the entire rail corridor will need to be at least double-tracked from Tilford Yard in the Bolton District of Northwest Atlanta up to the Junta neighborhood of Cartersville and likely beyond up to Chattanooga where applicable
         
        There are also a few very densely-developed areas (Vinings Village in particular and likely Downtown Cartersville and maybe even Downtown Marietta) where it might not be all that bad of an idea to maybe consider running any future passenger rail trackage and the existing freight rail trackage underground while leaving the current surface freight rail right-of-way through those areas to be some type of public space (recreational space, pedustrian plaza, public gathering place, linear park, etc).
         
         Report

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      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @Burroughston Broch
         Any concerns about the cost of making the necessary accommodations to implement the type of fully-functioning commuter rail service on existing freight rail right-of-ways that is critically-needed to relieve rush hour traffic pressure on I-75 and other severely-congested interstate spokes in and out of Central Atlanta can be addressed by using the same type of public-private partnerships that the State of Georgia was originally going to use to fund the construction of tolled reversible carpool lanes (HOT lanes) on Interstates 75 & 575 between the I-75/285 NW Cobb Cloverleaf and Canton.
         
        The number to private companies that lined up to bid on partnering with the state to construct and operate the I-75/575 HOT lanes shows that there are a number of private suitors that would be interested in partnering with the state on commuter rail lines in promising transportation corridors that are of great importance to this state and this region’s future economic well-being.
         
        Using public-private partnerships to implement and operate commuter rail service also gives the state more incentive to make sure those passenger rail lines are given the opportunity to succeed and be of a continued practical dependable working use to the public unlike MARTA, which has been mismanaged and neglected by government at times, or GDOT, which has been mismanaged to the point of almost being much more of a liability than the necessary asset that it should be handled as.
         
         Report

        Reply
  4. inatl says:

    If TIA is deciding on a bus system how do they switch that to rail if the study wants to do that.  I was told they could do that.  One thing they didn’t want to confirm was that the funds could also be shifted to funding the rest of the dollars needed for construction of the HOT lane.  
     
    Because the the study is going for federal dollars it needs to look at the alternatives.  Becaue the TSPLOST or TIA was a brokered deal it focused on politics.   How do the two meet up.
     
    I agree 110% that merely building transit down the middle of the highway is not the solution to the long term needs of the region.   Transit needs to be built so that high to medium walkable density occurs around the stations.   Highways and highway exits don’t fit this description.Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @inatl
      ” If TIA is deciding on a bus system how do they switch that to rail if the study wants to do that.  I was told they could do that.  One thing they didn’t want to confirm was that the funds could also be shifted to funding the rest of the dollars needed for construction of the HOT lane.”
       
      They can switch the funds from bus to rail and vice versa as the official description of the project is vaguely-worded (“Enhanced Premium Transit Service”) leaving a bit of wiggle room as to exactly where the money could eventually be spent, which could in theory be any option from light rail or increased bus service on US 41/Cobb Parkway, to bus rapid transit or express bus service in the reversible HOT lanes on I-75 or even conceivably commuter rail service on the CSX/W&A and GNRR freight rail lines that parallel Interstates 75 and 575, respectively, IN THEORY.
       
      Of course you and I both know that the political pressure to direct the $689 million in T-SPLOST funds towards the building of HOT lanes in the I-75 right-of-way is beyond torrid as Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, virtually every member (save for maybe one of the few Democrats in higher office there) of the Cobb County state and federal legislative delegations and, of course, Governor Nathan Deal all fervently support using that money to build new reversible HOT lanes in the right-of-way of I-75 after Deal pulled the plug on the highly-flawed P3 (Public-Private Partnership) that would have put the state and its taxpayers at a contractual disadvantage in being able to make other improvements to both roads and transit in that corridor for at least the next 60 years. Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @inatl
       I actually give Governor Deal kudos for pulling the plug on that bad contract with a private transportation company that the state was about to enter into to build and operate the HOT lanes on I-75/I-575.
       
      If the state had entered into that contract they would have been contractually restricted from making both major road and transit improvements on parallel right-of-ways within that I-75/US 41 Northwest Corridor for the next 60-70 years and would have been forced to pay HUGE financial penalties to the partnering private company had they attempted to do so (financial penalties that would have started at in the neighborhood of $300 million).
       
      I’m not a big fan of Lexus Lanes (HOT lanes) and I understand that the pursuit of the construction of HOT lanes within the right-of-ways of Interstate 75 and its Northwest Metro spur, I-575, is for political expedience, primarily to benefit Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews (who survived a tough re-election campaign last year), Governor Nathan Deal (who desperately needs the support of conservative voters in Cobb and Cherokee Counties to ensure he survives any possible challenge from within the Georgia GOP in the 2014 Primary) and, especially, Cobb Comission Chairman Tim Lee (who is on the political hot seat and on the verge of being excommunicated from the legendarily historically-conservative Cobb County Republican Party for his early support of building an $857 million light rail line connecting Midtown Atlanta with Cumberland Mall, a big political NO-NO in historically transit-averse Cobb County).Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @inatl
       
      ” If TIA is deciding on a bus system how do they switch that to rail if the study wants to do that.  I was told they could do that.  One thing they didn’t want to confirm was that the funds could also be shifted to funding the rest of the dollars needed for construction of the HOT lane.”
       
      They can switch the funds from bus to rail and vice versa as the official description of the project is vaguely-worded (“Enhanced Premium Transit Service”) leaving a bit of wiggle room as to exactly where the money could eventually be spent, which could in theory be any option from light rail or increased bus service on US 41/Cobb Parkway, to bus rapid transit or express bus service in the reversible HOT lanes on I-75 or even conceivably commuter rail service on the CSX/W&A and GNRR freight rail lines that parallel Interstates 75 and 575, respectively, IN THEORY.
      http://documents.atlantaregional.com/tia/pdf/TIA-CO-035.pdf
       
      Of course you and I both know that the political pressure to direct the $689 million in T-SPLOST funds towards the building of HOT lanes in the I-75 right-of-way is beyond torrid as Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, virtually every member (save for maybe one of the few Democrats in higher office there) of the Cobb County state and federal legislative delegations and, of course, Governor Nathan Deal all fervently support using that money to build new reversible HOT lanes in the right-of-way of I-75 after Deal pulled the plug on the highly-flawed P3 (Public-Private Partnership) that would have put the state and its taxpayers at a contractual disadvantage in being able to make other improvements to both roads and transit in that corridor for at least the next 60 years.
       
      Here is a copy of the links that I posted in my reply to Steve Brown that expounds upon how the pressure is on in Cobb County to spend the $689 million in T-SPLOST funds on the I-75/575 Lexus Lanes:
      http://mdjonline.com/view/full_story/17274789/article-Changing-lanes–Lee-asks-to-switch-funds-for-reversible-lanes?instance=home_news_left
      http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2012/01/24/drop-rail-link-and-restore-reversible-lanes-says-cobb-commission-chair-tim-lee/Report

      Reply
      • inatl says:

         @The Last Democrat in Georgia Yep though interestingly they still act as if this substatial portion of the TSPLOST/TIA dollars is still “transit dollars”  
         
        There is wiggle room not just in the vague project descriptions but also in the enforcement mechanism.  Not to mention that projects being on the list is not the same thing as a project actually being built.
         Report

        Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @inatl
       I actually give Governor Deal kudos for pulling the plug on that bad contract with a private transportation company that the state was about to enter into to build and operate the HOT lanes on I-75/I-575.
       
      If the state had entered into that contract they would have been contractually restricted from making both major road and transit improvements on parallel right-of-ways within that I-75/US 41 Northwest Corridor for the next 60-70 years and would have been forced to pay HUGE financial penalties to the partnering private company had they attempted to do so (financial penalties that would have started at in the neighborhood of $300 million).
       
      I’m not a big fan of Lexus Lanes (HOT lanes) and I understand that the pursuit of the construction of HOT lanes within the right-of-ways of Interstate 75 and its Northwest Metro spur, I-575, is for political expedience, primarily to benefit Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews (who survived a tough re-election campaign last year), Governor Nathan Deal (who desperately needs the support of conservative voters in Cobb and Cherokee Counties to ensure he survives any possible challenge from within the Georgia GOP in the 2014 Primary) and, especially, Cobb Comission Chairman Tim Lee (who is on the political hot seat and on the verge of being excommunicated from the legendarily historically-conservative Cobb County Republican Party for his early support of building an $857 million light rail line connecting Midtown Atlanta with Cumberland Mall, a big political NO-NO in historically transit-averse Cobb County).Report

      Reply
  5. David W says:

    How about killing the Regional power grab and letting the counties raise their own SPLOST funds for transportation with a portion to be allocated to a Regional “pool” for congestion relief projects?  Projects such as major interchange overhauls at 75/285, W285/20, 285/400 and 285/85 would do wonders to reduce congestion and would not commit the counties to longterm debt of unknown proportions.  In the meantime, a non-political planning initiative could be assembled to develop a plan for longterm solutions.  Get the responsibility into the hands of the taxpayers who will have to pay for it.Report

    Reply
    • ScottNAtlanta says:

      @David W
      Like the 5000 counties we have in GA working on their own has worked so well up to now?  That is the problem that has to be solved.  There aren’t the resources in 1 county no matter how large to go it alone.  Then also, say Cobb widens a road up to the Fulton Co line, but Fulton doesn’t see fit to follow suit…sound familiar?Report

      Reply
  6. Joey says:

    BRT and LRT would both flop on this corridor. Heavey Rail, (while more expensive)  would be very succesfull. There is even a stub tunnle north of arts center that was design for a future cobb line.Report

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      @ Joey: 
      While I agree that the I-75/US 41 Northwest Corridor is definitely in need of a rail transit option, I don’t necessarily agree that either the I-75 or US 41 (Cobb Parkway) right-of-ways are viable options for a heavy rail extension from Midtown Atlanta into Cobb County because of the lack of population density and the lack of density of existing development along both the I-75 and US 41 (Cobb Parkway) right-of-ways between the Howell Mill Rd interchange on I-75 and the Cumberland Mall area.
       
      IMHO, the first rail transit expansion priority in that corridor should be the implementation of high-frequency regional commuter rail service on the existing CSX-W&A freight rail line that parallels US 41 (Cobb Parkway) and I-75 between Atlanta and Chattanooga and on the Georgia Northeastern Railroad spur freight rail line that parallels I-575 & GA 515 between Atlanta (Marietta/Elizabeth) and the North Georgia Mountains.
       
      But, if a heavy rail extension is constructed between the Arts Center MARTA Station and the Cumberland Mall area, the best route for it to take would be leave the North MARTA Line just north of the Arts Center Station and wrap around the northside of Atlantic Station following the Norfolk Southern freight rail right-of-way over to just west of Howell Mill Road where it could then turn to the northwest and follow along the CSX-W&A freight rail right-of-way that runs through some high-density areas between the Chattahoochee River and I-285 up through the Vinings Village area, the Cumberland Mall, Smyrna and even up to Marietta.
       
      Using the Amtrak/Norfolk Southern (briefly) and CSX-W&A freight rail right-of-ways to extend heavy rail transit up into Cobb County from Midtown would be a much better option because of the much higher density of existing development and population that existing along that corridor.
       
      The NS and CSX-W&A freight rail right-of-ways is also a much better option because of the potential for heavy rail service to be able to compliment and interface with the high-frequency commuter rail service that is proposed to someday run on those corridors.  There is a major future multimodal station planned by the state (surprisingly already on the books) to be built along the northwest edge of Atlantic Station near the 17th Street overpass on the Amtrak/NS freight rail line while using the CSX-W&A route into Cobb County for a future heavy rail line would also fit perfectly into the continuing urban renewal plans of Smyrna and Marietta who plan to revitalize their walkable historic downtowns around future commuter rail stations.Report

      Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      The I-75 and US 41 (Cobb Parkway) right-of-ways are better left to either maybe express bus service (NOT Bus Rapid Transit) or nothing at all in the realm of transit as those less-densely developed right-of-ways are better left almost purely to higher-speed automobile traffic, or as is often the case while traveling on those roads during rush hour, low-speed automobile traffic.
       
      Let the areas along the existing CSX-W&A freight rail right-of-way that are making the effort to make their existing town and village centers more pedustrian and transit-friendly benefit from the increased transit investment in the Northwest Metro Atlanta corridor and leave the highways for cars.
       
      In fact, the best transportation use for the US 41 (Cobb Parkway) right-of-way might be to convert the road to a super-artery with 4-6 express lanes and 4 local lanes to service the declining auto-centered suburban sprawl of yesteryear. Report

      Reply
      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Vis-a-vie a US Hwy 1 outside of transit-heavy Boston or a US Hwy 41 through the Northern Suburbs of transit-heavy Chicago, only in this case, the addition of express lanes to US 41/Cobb Parkway would be paid for with tolls on the express lanes.Report

        Reply
      • inatl says:

         @The Last Democrat in Georgia  I agree but that’s the problem with this TSPLOST vote when it comes to Transit.  The folks controlling the money don’t have a good understanding of long term successful transit.  And thus unfortunately its entirely likely that they will view a transit option that also helps increase car capacity as the best solution thus leading to some sort of bus service that uses the HOT lanes on 75 because then they can use the funds to make up for the HOT Lane shortfall.
         
        Another example of transit on the cheap mentality was Cobb bragging about the 47% fare recovery on their bus service from Cumberland to Midtown.   Problem is part of the reason for this is that buses run at excessively crowded levels with standing room even at a premium.   As a result they aren’t getting nearly as much ridership as they should be getting because they don’t have enough buses to meet demand.Report

        Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl
           HOT Lanes on I-75/575 NW don’t have much of a shot of being built if this T-SPLOST is voted down and it shouldn’t be too much of a shocker that the T-SPLOST isn’t too terribly popular with what has been a traditionally anti-tax, anti-government (anti-everthing?) populace in historically ultraconservative Cobb County.Report

          Reply
    • ScottNAtlanta says:

      whatever is done…if it is not something with dedicated ROW that makes somewhat frequent stops…it wont be successful.  You need to be able to attract riders.  Five stops wont do that.  This is about getting people to leave the cars at homeReport

      Reply
      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @ScottNAtlanta
         I agree.  The best corridor for the type of dedicated right-of-way that you speak of is the right-of-way of the CSX-Western & Atlantic railroad that runs through a series of historic village areas full of the type of dense, walkable development that is not only capable of just merely supporting a rail transit line, but also of attracting the even more of the type of dense transit-friendly development that will change commuting and development patterns for the better.
         
        Cobb Parkway is a corridor that is full of aging sprawling auto-dependent development, much of which is in various stages of marked decline from about Barrett Parkway down to I-285.
         
        Proposing to run any type of high-frequency transit line (bus or, ESPECIALLY rail), save for some express bus service, is a misguided attempt to prop-up this corridor of aging and increasingly out-of-style auto-dependent SPRAWL.Report

        Reply
        • ScottNAtlanta says:

           @The Last Democrat in Georgia 
          The problem with CSX corridors is that you have to get CSX to agree to share them, and on most active lines they have shown very little willingness to do that, and when they do the price is usually to highReport

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
          Not too terribly much would have to be done to convince CSX to share the old Western & Atlantic right-of-way seeing as though the state owns the right-of-way and leases it out to CSX.
           http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/RAIL_MAP_SAMPLE.pdfReport

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
          The current lease with CSX on the old Western & Atlantic right-of-way actually expires on December 31, 2019.  Hopefully the state won’t wait until then to negotiate the necessary allowances for commuter rail service on those tracks, even though the state’s well-documented history of inaction on passenger rail says that is a highly likely possibility.Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
           Seeing as though Metro Atlanta and the Interstate 75-anchored Northwest Corridor were experiencing very explosive growth in population and development at the time, in hindsight, the allowances for frequent commuter rail service on the Western & Atlantic right-of-way should have been negotiated at the time that the current lease with CSX was signed back in 1986.
           
          Negotiating allowances for the frequent commuter rail service that has become increasingly necessary as the area has continued to grow in an almost exponential fashion at times at the time the current lease with CSX was signed back in 1986 would have and should have been concurrent with the massive “Freeing-the-Freeways” widening project (a freeway widening project which has since become obsolete due in large part to the lack of strong alternative rail transit commuting options as the previously explosively-growing Atlanta Region more than doubled in size and population in the two-and-a-half decades since the project was completed). Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
           Even though the freight railroads (in this case, CSX and Norfolk Southern) may not necessarily be all that enthusiastic about the prospect of sharing their tracks with commuter rail lines, the freight rail lines are still very well aware that they do not exist in a vacuum.
           
          Very busy freight rail right-of-ways are shared with high-frequency commuter rail lines and in many cases, high-frequency Amtrak lines, in major metro areas all over the continent, Atlanta should be no different, especially as though it has some of the worst traffic congestion on the continent.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commuter_rail_in_North_America#List_of_North_American_commuter_rail_operators
           
          Here in Georgia, between the South Carolina and Alabama state lines, Norfolk Southern shares its freight rail right-of-way with the Amtrak Crescent that operates between New Orleans and NYC (which, I know, is not the most robust example of a freight rail line sharing its right-of-way seeing as though the Crescent only runs through Georgia about twice a day, but it is the only example here in Georgia at the moment).
           
          The most robust examples of freight rail and passenger rail shared right-of-ways lie in and around the Chicago area and, of course, the Northeastern U.S. between Washington D.C. and Boston.Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
           Here’s an example of a busy CSX right-of-way in the Northeast outside of Washington D.C. in Maryland that is shared with a high-frequency MARC commuter rail line and 10, that’s right, TEN Amtrak lines.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camden_Line
           
          If CSX can share one of its very busy freight rail right-of-ways with high-frequency commuter rail service and TEN Amtrak lines in the Northeast, then surely it can share its Western & Atlantic line with just mere commuter rail service in Northwest Georgia between Atlanta and Chattanooga.
           
          The state already actually has plans to eventually someday implement commuter rail service on the Western & Atlantic and the Georgia Northeastern rail lines, it’s just that no one has likely made any serious overtures to CSX about proceeding forward with it, which shouldn’t be in the least bit surprising given how increasingly inept (and just plain goofy and out-and-out downright INCOMPETENT) the state has been when it comes to matters of transportation infrastructure as of late.
          http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf
           
          CSX and NS already are already well aware that if they operate in a highly-populated state with a major population center they will more than likely be asked to share their often very busy freight rail right-of-ways and tracks with commuter rail passenger trains.  
           
          Georgia has not been the rule, but rather has been and remains very much the exception in this case when it comes to a highly-populated state being in critical need of the use of busy freight rail right-of-ways for regional commuter rail service to relive intense peak hour traffic congestion and gridlock pressure from busy spoke interstates and freeways. 
           
           Report

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  7. ScottNAtlanta says:

    My guess is that most people posting here dont really know what BRT actually is.  Here is a link that really explains it well.

    Report

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    • inatl says:

       @ScottNAtlanta  Scott you know “enhanced transit service” and commuter bus service that are in the TSPLOST/tia are not BRT.  Both bus services do not have a dedicated right of way. 
       
      http://alexandriava.gov/HighCapacityTransit 
      Evaluation of different transit mode technologies (bus, enhanced bus, bus rapid transit, and streetcar)
       
      http://www.thejo.com/pdf/resources/MSMP_Postcard_201101.pdf
       
      http://maps.nashville.gov/MPO_TIPApp/TipProjectInfo.aspx?tipprojectid=540Report

      Reply
      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @inatl 
        From your link to the Nashville MPO:
         
        “Introduce enhanced bus service on the West End Corridor to include frequent service, limited stops, BRT shelters and amenities, real-time bus arrival information and bike racks to build ridership in advance of upcoming Alternative Analysis study.”
         
        That statement makes it look like the Nashville MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) is trying to build and increase transit ridership in advance of the implementation of streetcar service on that corridor that runs west out of Downtown Nashville along the north edge of Vanderbilt University coming within about a block or so within Vanderbilt Stadium, home stadium of the Vanderbilt Commodores football team (SEC Football Saturdays!) and Memorial Gymnasium, home arena of the Vanderbilt Commodores basketball team.
         
        It’s also interesting that you used a link to a transit project in Nashville, a region which has only just over a fourth of the population of the Atlanta Region, has commuter rail service, albeit very limited commuter rail service on one commuter rail line, the Music City Star, which provides limited commuter rail service on the existing Nashville and Eastern Railroad freight rail line which parallels Interstate 40 east out of Downtown Nashville for 32 miles to the Nashville exurb of Lebanon, TN.
         
        While the service is constrained by fares that are too low (the $5.00 one-way single-trip fares per person only help to pay for barely over one-third the total cost that it actually costs to provide the service on that one line which is supposed to be a demo for a larger system that will eventually consist of seven total lines and run parallel to seven major highway routes that are used heavily by commuters during morning and evening rush hours).
        http://www.musiccitystar.org/Middle-TN-RTA-stations.asp
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_City_Star
         Report

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      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @inatl  
        It should also be noted that the state of Tennessee has built a nearly-completed “Southern Arc” outer bypass through the distant exurbs of Nashville (Tennessee Highway 840/future I-840)
         
        TN 840/future I-840 is a 78-mile long south outer bypass of Nashville that was originally planned to be a full 178-mile long outer loop (an Outer Perimeter, if you will).
         
        The plans for the 100-mile “Northern Arc” section of the TN 840 outer loop bypass were put on hold indefinitely due to a variety of issues including lack of funding sources due to state budget issues (in spite of all of the roadbuilding, Tennessee still ranks dead last in per-capita transportation spending by most accounts), environmental concerns, lack of cooperation from local politicians in the areas where the road is proposed to be built and the proposed road’s lack of popularity from those who live in or near the path of where the road is proposed to be built as well as concerns that the road would contribute to extreme suburban sprawl.
         
        In other words, Nashville’s “Northern Arc” was “placed on hold indefinitely” for many of the same exact reasons that Atlanta’s “Northern Arc” was cancelled (ironically, both projects were virtually abandoned in the same year, 2003).
         
        Though one could argue that there was substantially more of a need for Atlanta’s Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc because of the extremely heavy amount of freight truck traffic that uses Atlanta’s I-285 Perimeter highway on an around-the-clock basis.
         
        Though it is also apparent that the problem of extreme heavy truck traffic on the I-285 Atlanta Perimeter is not a problem that will be solved with the construction of an Outer Perimeter or Northern Arc as many seem to keep pining for despite the road’s seeming demise about a decade ago because the Outer Perimeter, especially the Northern Arc portion, is for all intents and purposes, as dead as a doornail and it ain’t coming back so people just might-as-well move onto coming with more practical ideas of attempting to relieve traffic congestion over the long-term.
         
         Report

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      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

         @inatl  
        The plans to expand regional commuter rail service in the Nashville Region, though likely misguided from a funding standpoint, look to reflect a change in direction from a transportation standpoint for a region and a state that have traditionally been just as attached to their personal automobiles as Atlanta and Georgia.
         
        In fact, in the Nashville Region there was much hesitation and resistance to the idea of building the nearly 200-mile long TN 840 outer bypass when the project was in the planning and early construction stages because many citizens in the Nashville area were well aware of the increasing problems with extreme sprawl and the resulting extreme traffic congestion and degradation of quality-of-life that the Atlanta Region has experienced over the last four decades or so and many Nashvillians and Tennesseeans, while wanting and desiring Nashville to grow to become one of the South’s leading cities, did not want or desire Nashville to be the next Atlanta with all of its problems with suburban sprawl, overdevelopment, extreme traffic congestion and gridlock and air pollution.
         
        The same quality-of-life fears have increasingly been a main driver of transportation and land-use planning conversations in Charlotte over the last couple-of-decades which means that Atlanta’s notorious issues (PROBLEMS) with excessive sprawl, extreme traffic congestion and a conspicuous lack of transportation planning have scared (the living daylights out of and soberly deterred) smaller up-and-coming rival cities, like Nashville and Charlotte as well as rival cities of a similar size, like Dallas, from following the same exact path of completely out-of-control (over)development with virtually no transportation or land use planning whatsoever that Atlanta has gone down, almost nearly to the point of no return.
         Report

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      • ScottNAtlanta says:

         @inatl It was meant only as informative since I have heard many people call the I-20 service BRT.  BRT is a good way to spend less and verify ridership before replacing it with more expensive rail.  It also allows the resources to be moved to other locations when rail is constructedReport

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        • inatl says:

           @ScottNAtlanta Understood.  I used to really champion BRT, but its hard to these days because many officials are quick to play games with the names.  And what we end up with is merely “enhanced transit service” which does little to demonstrate how good transit to the suburbs can beReport

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        • ScottNAtlanta says:

           @inatl not only do they confuse the names, but they confuse everyone else.  You can construct BRT to be exactly like rail…just on wheels.  Its like a rail half way point because you’ve aquired the ROW thus have a dedicated lane that is separate from traffic (vastly decreasing trip times), which is at least half the cost…and later if traffic verifies you can spend the other cost of the rails…it spreads out your cost, verifies need, and provides a real transit alternative.  The problem is, you mention bus and people think of a bus thats stuck in traffic just like everyone elseReport

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        • inatl says:

           @ScottNAtlanta Its frustrating to think what could have been had the region protected Right of Way for Rail. 
           
          Actually my hats of to the City of Atlanta for the fact they are protecting the ROW via the Beltline.     They are going in getting the land and putting in the trail and as I understanding prepping the land for later light rail along the trail.   The trail and park loop alone is spurring the development that will provide ridership.  And the ROW is being protected so its costs don’t go up with the increased development.  
           
          This is one reason why while I like the money the Beltline is getting from the TSPLOST things will still be fine for the Beltline if TSPLOST gets voted down.Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl  
          With some notable exceptions, like the future MARTA rail transit line to and from Emory University between the existing MARTA North/Northeast Line (Red/Gold Line) and the MARTA East Line (Blue Line), securing future right-of-way for rail transit expansions shouldn’t really be too much of a problem because of the all of the existing freight rail right-of-way that exists around the entire region in abundance. 
           Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl  
          What could have been can very much still be when it comes to the Atlanta Region’s potential for a comprehensive rail transit network.
           
          As evidenced by this region’s under-utilization of MARTA, our current rail transit network functions at only a mere fraction of what it has the potential to be.
           
          Even with all of the more than abundant existing freight rail infrastructure, the Atlanta Region is the largest metropolitan area east of the Mississippi River without regional commuter rail service, despite the explosive population growth and resulting extreme traffic jams on major freeway spokes that the area has experienced with great frequency over the last three decades.Report

          Reply
  8. SteveBrown says:

    True BRT is an interesting concept.  BRT used to be a strong contender in metro Atlanta with GRTA and the Metro Chamber of Commerce on board.  Many of the transit projects in the TIA (TSPLOST) do not give any hope for ridership or results.  At least with BRT, as opposed to rail, you could create new routes if things did not work out.Report

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  9. ScottNAtlanta says:

    It makes me wonder…if Bogota and Medellin in Colombia can build these systems…why cant we?  We are becoming a 3rd world country in terms of transportation. ..and if I hear one more person push this moronic we cant pay for it argument…aka “austerity” I am going to scream (though nobody will hear it…like nobody understands econ 101 it seems these days).  China, Columbia, and other developing countries are weathering this crisis so much better because…they are investing in their infrastructure which is creating jobs and wealth while we argue about a 1 cent tax…its pathetic when you really think about itReport

    Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @ScottNAtlanta
       Though they don’t appear on the T-SPLOST list, there are actually plans to implement Bus Rapid Transit on Buford Highway between Lenox/Cheshire Bridge Roads and roughly Doraville or even as far as Norcross where the local powers-that-be want the Northeast MARTA line to be extended to someday.
       
      If US 41/Cobb Parkway is not turned into a super-artery, BRT could maybe, just maybe, be a much better option for that right-of-way than light rail.
       
      Though, personally, I am not all that big of a fan of sinking preciously-limited transit resources into a very low-density, auto-dominated corridor where increased transit options most likely may not be all that sustainable without very heavy subsidies.
       
      The heavy start-up costs and subsidies that are being targeted at the sprawling, low-density, auto-dominated corridor that lines the US 41/Cobb Parkway right-of-way would be much better utilized on a right-of-way/corridor where transit would be not only be more than sustainable over the long-term, but also self-sustaining, as would be the case with the CSX-Western & Atlantic right-of-way/corridor which runs directly through more densely-developed areas where the locals are actually in the process of actively seeking more walkability and regional transit access to their already-walkable compact historic village and downtown areas (Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Woodstock, Holly Springs and Canton).
       
      Communites in that Northwest Corridor like Smyrna, Woodstock and, to a lesser extent, Vinings, are leading the way in what is being called the “new suburbanism” by concentrating new compact walkable transit-friendly development on future transit lines around future transit stations that have not even been built yet.
       
      Other communities, like Marietta with its historic town square (Glover Park) and railroad towns like Kennesaw, Acworth, Holly Springs and Canton are seeking to revitalize their very compact historic downtowns over the long-term and think that rail transit would provide a very big boost to their long-term hopes to make their historic downtown village areas a much more desirable option for commercial and residential development and tourism in the future.Report

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      • ScottNAtlanta says:

         @The Last Democrat in Georgia BRT would definitely work on the Buford Hwy corridor.  You could rework the lanes to have a lane with its own ROW.  There is also a highly transit dependent population along that corridor…not sure about how you’d work that on the Cheshire/Lenox segmentReport

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        • inatl says:

           @ScottNAtlanta  @The Last Democrat in Georgia  Yea but we won’t see BRT anytime soon on Buford Highway – the only corridor in Metro Atlanta with Public Transit buses and Private transit vans because ridership is so high.   
           
          Heck even though they are redoing the Sidney Marcus/85/400 intersection I don’t believe they are taking steps to provide a congestion free route for these vans and buses.  Which is a shame because frankly this is the only bottleneck for the buses going from the Lindberg MARTA station to points north on Buford Highway.Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl  @ScottNAtlanta
           Keep-in-mind that the amount of congestion in the vicinity of Buford Hwy and Lenox & Cheshire Bridge Rds and on Sidney Marcus will be significantly lessened after the construction of the new ramps between Hwy 400 and I-85 are complete, making an increased transit option on Buford Highway, much more viable and convenient.
           
          Most of the traffic that will be taken off of Buford Highway and Sidney Marcus Blvd will be expressway traffic that will never have to return to that traditionally gridlocked section of the road grid, meaning that travel between Buford Highway and the Lindbergh MARTA Station, via Sidney Marcus, will be much easier.
           
          Also because BRT usually has lanes with their own dedicated right-of-way, as ScottNAtlanta pointed out, BRT buses often get their own dedicated traffic signals with their own dedicated green light phases, making it easier for those buses to get through very busy intersections, which in the case of Buford Hwy BRT would be major intersections at Shallowford Rd, Chamblee-Tucker Rd, Clairmont Road, North Druid Hills Road and, especially, busy intersections at Lenox/Cheshire Bridge Roads and Sidney Marcus Boulevard.Report

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        • inatl says:

           @The Last Democrat in Georgia  @ScottNAtlanta Yes but now is the time to put that lane in or take away a lane since much of the traffic will be removed and they are doing the heavy construction now.   Though frankly its not going to be most of the traffic, just some of it.
           
          Anyway that’s what the beltline is doing, as they install the multi use trail they use the heavy equipment to level and prepare the area where a street car or light rail might one day go.  Which in some instances has been more difficult than anticipated due to unidentified sewer pipes or hazardous materials.  
           
          But thankfully they are doing it now when its easier to get access and the equipment is there.   Which is what they should be doing at Sidney Marcus.
           
          And btw they should narrow Cheshirebridge at Lenox/Buford Highway to make it more pedestrian friendly for those getting off the bus on Buford Highway and seeking to walk to the shopping and residential area at Lavista.   Right now its a very dangerous walk.Report

          Reply
    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @ScottNAtlanta
       That 470,000 daily transit ridership number that you cite only includes data from MARTA.
       
      When the daily ridership numbers for Cobb Community Transit (11,000 riders/daily), Gwinnett County Transit (8,000 riders/daily), GRTA Xpress (9,000 riders/daily), Hall Area Transit (Gainesville-1,100 riders/daily) the average daily transit ridership for the entire 28-county Atlanta Region of 5.8 million is approximately 500,000 riders per day which figures out to about 8.6% of the population of the 28-county Atlanta Region using transit on a daily basis.
       
      When the daily number of transit riders (498,000) is applied from the four transit systems (MARTA, CCT, GCT & GRTA Xpress) that operate in the 10-county ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission) area is applied to the population of the 10-county ARC area (4,142,300 people) daily transit ridership in the 10-county region is just over 12%.Report

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      • ScottNAtlanta says:

         @The Last Democrat in Georgia which is more evidence that this 5% number that keeps getting regurgitated is completely false and made up, which is why when pressed those that use it never answer.  The 12% is in line with the other post (with link) which puts the percentage at 11.43%.  Of course, now the Republicans in congress are trying to defund this additional census data which gives us these numbers…why? I dont even have a clue, nor do theyReport

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
           Paranoia.  They think that mass transit and the walkable transit-friendly communities that can pop-up around transit lines and transit stations is part of an international conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. Government, the one with the world’s most powerful military and all of the most-advanced guns and weapons and stuff, and replace it with a shadow government run by the United Nations…You know, the same United Nations with no guns that sends its so-called peacemaking “troops” over to war zones unarmed so that they can be chased around by some of the world’s most infamous, and armed-to-the-teeth, war criminals.Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta
           The name of this little theory is called “Agenda 21”.
           
          Yes.  Mass transit-centered planning is part of a third-world international conspiracy to overthrow the highly-armed U.S. Government and replace it with a shadow government controlled by the unarmed and feckless United Nations.Report

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        • ScottNAtlanta says:

           @The Last Democrat in Georgia The biggest problem here (and I’ve never seen this anywhere else) is that people associate MARTA with poverty and want nothing to do with it.  There is no regional pride in the MARTA system only contempt for this very reasonReport

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        • inatl says:

           @ScottNAtlanta  @The Last Democrat in Georgia Think its more than poverty.  More like stereotypes.   You could substitute a number of terms, like Atlanta, for MARTA in The Last Dem’s comment though perhaps not limit it to poverty.
           
          People buy in to the political games where its become popular to bash everything that is the Democratic areas of DeKalb, Fulton and Atlanta.  I don’t want to inject race into it but in the background it at least helps people believe the false narrative. 
           
          I mean everyone believes MARTA is inefficient and even corrupt.  Yet the statistics comparing MARTA to other transit agencies demonstrates they have one of the best financial operating ratios around in terms of cost per passenger mile – and that’s with an underutilized system thanks in part to perception and in part due to poor regional land use planning/development decisions.Report

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        • ScottNAtlanta says:

           @inatl well…in all fairness, there was a little mishandling of MARTA funds decades ago which will be used to eternity against it (in the Bill Campbell years go figure).  As far as association with poverty, you dont see the same thing in Charlotte, or Denver, or Dallas.  Sure there are people against it, but there is also a sense of accomplishment in those places.  To some extent there is some pride here when big projects get completed…but you have to get them built first and there is no appetite for that unfortunatelyReport

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl
           The biggest problem that I’ve noticed with MARTA and transportation in the Atlanta Region in general has been a glaring lack of leadership from state government.
           
          That lack of leadership on urban transportation issues in Metro Atlanta shouldn’t really be in the least bit surprising seeing as though how the state has mismanaged the Georgia Department of Transportation almost completely into the ground where even the simplest of administrative or operational tasks (like accounting and routine road maintenance) seems to have become an almost insurmountable chore…(like the $430 million in invoices that GDOT had lost in a desk, or the $1 billion in funds that GDOT had just found that the agency didn’t know it had even lost or the 20 years it took to complete the 85-316 project which had been on the books since shortly after Gwinnett Place Mall opened back in the 1980’s, or how GDOT had so many projects on the books as “insisted upon favors” to self-serving state politicians that it didn’t know which ones it was supposed to actually be working on and so on and so on…).
           
           Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl
          Adding greatly to the overall ineptness of GDOT over the last couple of decades is all of the time, energy and resources that the agency has expended on proposals that in the end turned out to be so unpopular that they were either eventually totally abandoned by state politicians (like the ill-fated Outer Perimeter and Northern Arc bypass proposal which aided in the defeat of Governor Roy Barnes and the Democrats a decade ago after extreme resistance to the roadbuilding proposal from the public) or have been dramatically downplayed in some way, shape or form (like the proposed $16 billion HOT lanes network which, while it is still proposed to be built on limited sections of the freeway system like I-75 NW and I-75 South, has been quieted as a major strategy after the outrage the ill-effects on I-85 NE traffic that the HOT lanes have had on that very busy road).
           
          Transportation in most major cities is a partnership between the locals and the state which wants to make sure that its leading city and economic engine remains viable and able to function, but in this state GDOT has spent so much time and attention, first on the Northern Arc (which GDOT continued to work on until 2008, five years after the state had officially cancelled the entire project in 2003 and had made it abundantly clear that the state politicians in the Gold Dome had completely abandoned the Northern Arc as part of their overall transportation “strategy” out of an intense fear of angry voters) and then on HOT lanes at the expense of the obvious viable transportation alternatives such as rail transit or even improving long-neglected inadequate surface arterial routes.
           
           Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @ScottNAtlanta  @inatl
           How can GDOT be effective in implementing, expanding and upgrading rail transit options if they can’t even perform the simplest of operational or maintenance tasks on the roads because they’ve been mismanaged by the politicians under the Gold Dome and have been guided by rogue elements into expending a huge amount of time and resources into projects that have turned out to be wildly unpopular?Report

          Reply
        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl  @ScottNAtlanta
           When it comes to rail transit, MARTA often gets the bulk of the blame that should be assigned to this state’s top down neglect and outright incompetent mismanagement of transportation issues in general as many people blame MARTA for not playing a larger role in relieving traffic congestion throughout the entire metro area and/or region.
           
          Though Boston is the most notable exception, urban heavy rail transit-anchored systems like MARTA and regional commuter rail networks are not usually managed by the same agency.
           
          In most major metros, local heavy rail-anchored transit networks are managed by an agency that is under the control of at least one or two local counties within the urban core of a region while regional commuter rail networks are usually managed by an agency that is under the control of the region or the state which why I often snicker when I hear OTPers desperate for traffic relief propose to expand MARTA out into surrounding counties to perform the functions that a currently non-existent regional commuter rail network should be performing.
           
          It would probably be wise for MARTA to concentrate on providing and upgrading service in Fulton and DeKalb counties where people care about its well-being the most while leaving rail and bus transit service in outlying counties to the state and the locals in those areas.Report

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        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

           @inatl  @ScottNAtlanta
           Areas at the urban core, like that of Fulton and DeKalb counties that are served by MARTA have much different transit needs than that of suburban areas, even heavily-populated suburban areas like Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett, and suburban counties with a more exurban feel like Cherokee and Henry.
           
          Which is why the focus of MARTA should remain on Fulton and DeKalb counties and the transit priority for outlying suburban and exurban counties should be implementing regional commuter rail service on existing freight rail lines that stretch through historic suburban railroad towns as well as a few key targeted extensions of the popular express commuter bus service where commuter rail implementation and expansion is not necessarily possible.  Report

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  10. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    The absolute best use of the US Highway 41/Cobb Parkway right-of-way and corridor is as a “super-artery” of sorts with four free local lanes (two in each direction) and six tolled through lanes (three in each direction) from just north of the town of Emerson in Southeast Bartow County (where US 41 curves close to I-75) down to I-285 (with the free local lanes running from just south of the Bartow-Cobb county line down to the I-285/41 interchange to serve local traffic).
     
    Rail transit upgrades and expansion should be kept as an option only for the CSX-Western & Atlantic (and Georgia Northeastern Railroad spur) freight rail right-of-way corridor(s) where the increased density of potentially walkable (and transit-friendly) development and ongoing “suburban renaissance” revitalization efforts make rail transit a much more compatible option than along the sprawling auto-dominated US Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway corridor where rail transit would likely flounder.
     
    The CSX-W&A (along with the spur GNRR) right-of-way is a valuable rail corridor with well-spaced clusters of dense walkable development (in Vinings village, Downtown Smyrna, Downtown Marietta, Downtown Kennesaw, Downtown Acworth, Downtown Woodstock, etc) that have an extremely high potential to be rail transit-friendly, so use it for rail transit and use the auto-dominated Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway corridor for through automobile traffic as a western relief valve of sorts for the perennially rush hour-gridlocked I-75.
     
    The sprawling, low-density, auto-dominated US Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway right-of-way would be best utilized in the future as a transportation corridor to move THROUGH AUTOMOBILE TRAFFIC (that is particularily attractive to the very heavy through truck traffic that uses the west leg of I-285 and the NW leg of I-75 OTP) that is a west northbound-southbound alternative to the often severely rush-hour congested and gridlocked I-75 right-of-way.Report

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  11. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee met with members of the predominantly black, transit-supporting GCC (Georgia Community Coalition) and in his comments, seemed to state that the decision has already been made by the powers-that-be to use the $689 million of Cobb T-SPLOST money alloted to the project entry for “Enhanced Premium Transit Service” in the I-75/US 41 corridor to build HOT Lanes.
     
    Courtesy of the website “Wingcom Watchdog” (WW):
    “Lee said it would take approximately $4 million to reactivate bus service on those routes. Lee informed the group that light rail was too costly to construct, that the decision had already been made, and the new plan would use taxpayer monies to construct a reversible lane system instead.”
    http://wingcomwatchdog.blogspot.com/Report

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  12. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tim Lee met with members of the predominantly black, transit-supporting GCC (Georgia Community Coalition) last week and in his comments, seemed to strongly indicate that the decision has already been made by the powers-that-be to use the $689 million of Cobb T-SPLOST money alloted to the project entry for “Enhanced Premium Transit Service” in the I-75/US 41 corridor to build HOT Lanes.
     
    Courtesy of the website “Wingcom Watchdog” (WW):
    “Lee said it would take approximately $4 million to reactivate bus service on  those routes. Lee informed the group that light rail was too costly to  construct, that the decision had already been made, and the new plan would use  taxpayer monies to construct a reversible lane system instead.”
    http://wingcomwatchdog.blogspot.com/Report

    Reply
  13. RobertGrunwald says:

    Why is the that Cobb and County and State talke to each are they so far in differnt  world that can look on the intertnet. Well here i will give them hand look this that has been on the books for the last almost ten years. http://atl-chatt.org/index.htm  all the ground work has been  time to put the shovel in the groundReport

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  14. SteveBrown says:

    According to Tim Lee, the “spoiled brats” conservatives are forcing him to look at bus as a more cost effective solution, but he wants that ultra expensive rail awful bad.Report

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    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

       @SteveBrown
       Looks like ol’ Tim Lee is not going to get his wish, nor should he get his wish as Cobb Parkway is a horrible corridor for rail transit, while the I-75 right-of-way is an even worse corridor for rail transit.
       
      Any rail transit option should be implemented on the CSX-Western & Atlantic right-of-way that serves Cobb’s walkable historic downtowns (Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, etc) where the density of population and development actually exists to support the rail transit line.  Rail transit (in every corridor) should also be funded with revenue sources (like public-private partnerships and user fees in the form of fares, etc) that are not as limiting as a T-SPLOST that is split up between roads, transit and economic development projects.
       
      The best options for the I-75/US 41 automobile right-of-ways should be automobile solutions like tolled express lanes (with untolled local surface lanes) built to Interstate standards on US 41/Cobb Parkway so that US 41 can act a western truck route option that can relieve I-75 of very heavy traffic.
       
      The rail option on the CSX-W&A and the super-artery option on US 41 are both options that can be paid for WITHOUT raising taxes. Report

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