Atlanta Regional Commission passes transportation plan

LAWRENCEVILLE - A $67 billion transportation plan was passed by the Atlanta Regional Commission Wednesday.

The plan is an update to Mobility 2030, approved in December 2004, said Jane Hayse, the ARC's chief of transportation planning.

It has the highest price tag of any the state has had despite the ARC cutting $4 billion worth of projects, Hayse said.

"It's the first time we've ever had to do that," she said. "We're in a critical situation in this region in terms of funding infrastructure. It's not a situation we want to be in. It's pretty dire."

Hayse did not have specifics about projects in Gwinnett, but an ARC spokesman said the plan intends to combat the worst traffic bottlenecks and provide new transit and pedestrian options in the region.

Local projects that were funded in the plan include the West Winder Bypass, the Sugarloaf Parkway extension and bus rapid transit along Buford Highway from Lindbergh to Pleasant Hill Road.

Other projects in the region include managed toll lanes on Interstate 75, expanded bus service, bus rapid transit systems, the Beltline and a transit spur from the Lindbergh MARTA station to Emory University.

Some of the projects that were cut include the extension of high-occupancy toll lanes and some transit additions, Hayse said.

The next update is due in four years. The ARC also passed a bike and pedestrian plan that will eliminate gaps near schools, hospitals and other areas, Hayse said.

"It's important this region have a vision for transportation improvements," she said.

The new plan, which is known as Envision6, should save each person 50 hours of traffic delay and reduce freeway congestion by as much as 20 percent, according to ARC statistics.