Cobb unveils plan for high-capacity bus service into Atlanta

Cobb County unveiled Tuesday the results of a $1.8 million transit study for high-capacity bus service into Atlanta, a project designed to help relieve congestion along the county’s northwest corridor.

The study, which was 80 percent funded through federal and state dollars, is part of a $1.1 billion long-term plan to develop transit alternatives along I-75 and U.S. 41.

The preferred transit route, selected from among seven considered, calls for travel beginning at Kennesaw State University and running to MARTA’s Arts Center Station in Midtown Atlanta. High-capacity buses would travel in their own dedicated lane along U.S. 41 (Cobb Parkway) to a point inside I-285 where the route would switch over to I-75’s managed lanes into Atlanta.

Funding for the plan remains up in the air. Close to $690 million that would have been dedicated to the overall project fell by the wayside in July when voters defeated a regional transportation sales tax.

The county now moves into the environmental impact stage of the plan, which is estimated to cost $3 million. Money for that study is already available, with primary funding through the federal government, Cobb spokesman Robert Quigley said.

Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee characterized the study released Tuesday as comprehensive and thorough.

“It gives us good, quantifiable data to use in the future,” he said. “The preferred route moves the most amount of people most effectively with the most efficiency.”

Cobb Community Transit already operates express bus routes to the Arts Center Station, but the high-capacity bus plan would include more than a dozen stops along the route, for which some infrastructure would have to be built.

Three of the other plans considered called for beginning the route in Acworth.

Routes were graded according to cost, environmental impact, economic development, land use and transportation. The study also showed new ridership along the route would be 24,000 by 2040.

But not everyone is so sure about the plan.

Commissioner Bob Ott said he’s not convinced the bus route would save commuters time, based on the number of stops, and he thinks that would affect ridership.

“I think the results we saw today were positive for economic development, but I’m not sure how they would help traffic congestion,” Ott said. “In this era of limited dollars, we need to address traffic congestion first.”