The surface streets, combined with managed lanes on the area’s highways, would form the basis of a network connecting key parts of the city and region.
A tunnel would run from the intersection of I-675 and I-285 to the intersection of Ga. 400 and I-85. Managed lanes, variably-priced toll lanes like those on I-85 in Gwinnett County, would be built on most Atlanta freeways including all of I-285, I-20 east and west of downtown, and Ga. 400 from Atlanta to McFarland Road. This would give the area’s drivers and buses congestion-free trips 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
With a beefed-up network of connected streets and managed freeway lanes, metro Atlanta could build a comprehensive Bus Rapid Transit and express bus network at a fraction of the cost of proposed light rail lines.
But how does Atlanta pay for these transportation improvements?The Reason Foundation report finds that public-private partnerships could be used to build and operate the toll lanes. The private sector would deliver more than $7 billion to help build the lanes in metro Atlanta.
Atlanta also should look at the transportation funding it is spending on non-transportation projects. The region could get nearly all the money it needs by no longer diverting the portion of the gasoline sales tax to the general fund; making sure all the local special purpose sales taxes paid on gasoline similarly go to transportation, and eliminating gas tax exemptions.
Focus transportation funding on building a comprehensive network to increase mobility and economic activity, making metro Atlanta a better place to live.
Baruch Feigenbaum is an Atlanta-based transportation policy analyst at the Reason Foundation and author of “Practical Strategies for Increasing Mobility in Atlanta.”