Fulton commissioners to consider I-285 bus rapid transit plan

Credit: custom

Credit: custom

Fulton County commissioners on Wednesday will consider approving a deal with local transit partners to move forward with building bus rapid-transit routes and express lanes around the northern part of I-285.

The proposal, led by MARTA, would spend $16.2 million of mostly taxpayer dollars to create a design and conceptual engineering plan for the road project. The project would mean buses sharing toll lanes with passenger cars on the northern half of the interstate loop that defines the Perimeter.

According to the agreement attached to Wednesday’s agenda, the lanes would run from the Indian Creek MARTA Station to the H.E. Holmes MARTA Station.

Cobb County a few weeks ago unanimously became the first metro government to sign on to the agreement, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, which could be “crossing three county lines and connecting to the transit network of a fourth” after two decades of work and $1 billion.

ExploreI-285 bus rapid transit plan gains steam with $16M study

Fulton is one of the 13 counties included in The Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority, or The ATL, which oversees transit planning and funding for the region.

An elected official from eight cities — Clarkston, Tucker, Doraville, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Smyrna and Atlanta — and four counties — DeKalb, Fulton Gwinnett and Cobb — will serve on a policy working group from the project, according to the agreement.

Even as officials sign on, the future of the BRT plans could still be derailed. It is going to take serious money from the cities (likely Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars) to build the BRT system.

Despite begging from the state, city leaders in Fulton couldn’t come to a consensus on the rapid buses and decided to move forward with a T-SPLOST list that didn’t include money carved out for BRT. Many mayors decided their cities needed T-SPLOST funds but didn’t want to lower their chances by including BRT in their ask to voters. The electorate did approve a new T-SPLOST of three-quarters of a penny for five years, without BRT, in 2021. According to county officials, cities could still divert dollars to fund a BRT system.

Fulton commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday inside the assembly hall of the Fulton County Government Center, 141 Pryor St. in downtown Atlanta. Meetings are typically livestreamed on the county’s YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/FultonGovernmentTV.