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Ga. 400 express lanes and BRT project a potential double-edged sword

By Guest Columnist CARL HOLT, an avid promoter of bicycling who volunteered as project manager for the installation of Atlanta’s first bike corral, in the Kirkwood neighborhood

Gov. Nathan Deal stood at the North Wing stairs of the Georgia State Capitol on June 19 to announce the State of Georgia will issue $100 million bonds for a bus rapid transit project in North Fulton County. Deal was surrounded by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (a candidate for governor), House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), and a group of elected officials representing the state and Fulton County.

carl holt, resized

Carl Holt

The BRT project will be part of the Georgia Department of Transportation’s larger Georgia 400 Express Lane project, which is projected to cost $1.8 billion. The project is to include two elevated, barrier separated lanes in each direction, from I-285 to Spalding Drive.; two buffer-separated lanes in each direction, from Spalding Drive to McGinnis Ferry Road; and one buffer-separated lane in each direction, from McGinnis Ferry Road to McFarland Parkway.

The BRT project is to be funded via the $100 million bond; a $184 million federal grant; and, if passed by Fulton County voters, proceeds of a proposed 0.5 percent transit sales tax.

The BRT plan is to include four stations, though the proposed locations were not discussed. Nor was it mentioned if BRT stations would be located in the freeway, similar to LA Metro’s Silver Line along The Harbor Transitway, or if buses would exit the express lanes via direct access ramps, or use surface streets to access station areas and then reenter the express lanes via ramps.

What does this mean for a potential MARTA Rail Red Line extension to North Fulton? The Red Line extension is now D.O.A.

Fulton County commissioners and mayors approved a Transit Master Plan in January, which would be funded by a proposed 0.5 percent sales tax. The project list did not contain any funding for rail, but rather a BRT system for North and South Fulton County.

If the BRT in express lane project is executed correctly, it could be a model for a metro-wide BRT in express lane network.

If BRT-creep makes it way into the project and standard BRT amenities are cut out for budgetary reasons, this project will fail to deliver the time-savings and ridership projections now envisioned. Anti-transit people will use it as an example of why transit projects are wasteful and we will see few transit projects funded by the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority, known at the ATL.


express lanes on 400 poster

The plan to operate bus rapid transit on the express lanes to be built along Ga. 400 north of I-285 is still in the concept stage. Specific details of the plan have not been made public. Credit: Carl Holt


BRT on 400 announced

Gov. Nathan Deal announced the state’s plan to spend $100 million to begin operating bus rapid transit on future express lanes along Ga. 400, north of I-285. Credit: Carl Holt


Ga. 400 express lane plan

Georgia’s Department of Transportation plans to build express lanes along Ga. 400 from I-285 to McFarland Parkway, near Fulton County’s border with Forsyth County. Credit: Carl Holt


Ga. 400 express lanes

Georgia’s plan to ease traffic congestion on Ga. 400 includes adding express lanes along the highway. Credit: cbs46.com



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  1. John Tackett July 11, 2018 12:15 pm

    Why would I as a Fulton County resident pay an additional proposed 0.5 percent sales tax when I am not seeing any benefits from the current tax rate we have? I see all these projects but nothing coming into the area I live in, East Point. And those that are coming are years away, IF, they happen at all.

    According to a recent AJC article, projections that Fulton County used to sell a 2016 transportation tax to voters were too high and have been scaled back. And I already pay a 1 cent MARTA tax. SMH..Report

  2. Michael McIntyre July 12, 2018 5:13 pm

    It seems that BRT has become the de facto substitute for rail (especially heavy, although they dangle the possibility of future light rail conversion). And the BRT or “Express Lane” plan is really just a euphemism for a toll road that the state can tout as a some sort of magical public-private partnership. That new toll lanes are being built on SR-400 is especially ridiculous, seeing as how Deal converted the entire thing from being a toll road just a few short years ago.Report

  3. Matt July 13, 2018 7:19 pm

    East Point has a MARTA rail station on the red and gold lines, as well as a bus route that connects the west and central parts of the city to the MARTA station on the east side. East Point is pretty well-served by MARTA especially in comparison to other areas that have paid in as long with fewer services in return.Report

  4. Rajendra Gondhalekar March 9, 2019 11:13 am

    I agree. I have lived in Alpharetta for nearly 20 years, and all my taxes have got me is buses that are stuck in traffic during part of the rush hour and stop running in the evening before traffic does. I need rail or BRT to come all the way to North Fulton.Report

  5. Chris Johnston March 10, 2019 1:50 pm

    And Gwinnett should expect more? LOLReport


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