Cities fund study that may lead to I-285 shuttle bus service

A top-end transit concept is still in its early stages, but depending on the outcome of a study backed by seven mayors, commuters could someday take buses from Northlake Mall in Tucker to Cumberland Parkway in Smyrna.

Seven cities along the north side of I-285 are pitching in to pay for a second study of an east-west transit line that would connect the cities by running buses in toll lanes along the top end of I-285.

The study costs $135,000, which will be split between Brookhaven, Smyrna, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville, and Tucker, according to a statement from Brookhaven, which is initiating the study. Its City Council voted on Tuesday to pay its share of about $15,000.

The top-end transit concept aims to alleviate traffic on I-285, a notoriously congested interstate; more than 240,000 vehicles make their way across the top end of I-285 every weekday, Brookhaven said.

» READ MORE: North metro Atlanta mayors propose east-west transit plan

Possible stops along the route could include the Braves' SunTrust Park and The Battery, Roswell Road and I-285, Perimeter Mall and the Assembly project at the Doraville MARTA station.

The first study, commissioned last year, found that an east-west transit line across the top of metro Atlanta would be financially sound and could happen relatively quickly, as long as it didn’t feature heavy rail, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in February.

The second study will “provide more granular-level detail than the initial study to include things like specific station locations, ridership estimates, fare structures, and other details,” Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman said in a statement.

» RELATED: Fulton adds rapid buses on I-285 to transit plan, vote in 2020 likely

The Georgia Department of Transportation is also moving forward with plans to construct up to two toll lanes in each direction on the northern half of the Perimeter, with construction beginning in 2022. The transit project could utilize these managed lanes with buses that look like trains, the first feasibility study found. The system would cost about $450 million to build out, and could be operated for less than $8 million a year.

The costs among the seven cities for the second study will be prorated based on population, with additional funding coming from the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, the Cumberland CID and the Tucker-Northlake CID. The cities also partnered to fund the first study last year.

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