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ARC Board Approves Regional Freight Plan to Help Move Goods Efficiently

Posted on: Jun 27, 2016

Contact: Jim Jaquish
Phone: 404.463.3194

(Atlanta – Jun 27, 2016)

The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) yesterday adopted an update to the Atlanta Regional Freight Mobility Plan that features short-term and long-term strategies to enhance the movement of freight in metro Atlanta.

The plan includes recommendations to maximize existing infrastructure, as well as $1.8 billion in carefully targeted road and highway improvements. The goal is to improve the region’s economic competitiveness while minimizing the impact of freight distribution on the environment and local communities.

“Freight is critical to the Atlanta region’s economy,” said Mike Alexander, Director of ARC’s Center for Livable Communities. “This plan provides a detailed roadmap for how the region will accommodate an expected sharp increase in freight traffic over the next 25 years.”

More than 150 million tons of freight move through and within metro Atlanta each year. This figure is expected to grow to 266 million tons by 2040, driven by the rapid growth in international trade, the expansion of the Port of Savannah, and an increase in home deliveries as e-commerce continues to gain market share.

ARC worked closely with local governments, the trucking industry and private businesses to identify key issues, analyze the impact of increasing freight quantities, identify opportunities for improving the movement of freight and ensure the region meets new federal requirements. The group helped ARC narrow a list of more than 100 freight-critical projects to a more manageable level.

Many of the infrastructure projects in the freight plan are also important for congestion relief and improved safety. Some of the key projects scheduled to be under construction by 2021 include:

  • I-285 at Georgia 400 – Relieving congestion at this bottleneck is one of the most important projects in the state for freight and commuters.
  • I-285 West and I-20 – Reconfigured interchange adds roadway capacity in an area with high freight volumes.
  • I-85 at Senoia Road – Reconfigured interchange provides better access to the CSX Intermodal Yard and Oakley Industrial Boulevard in Fairburn, while reducing congestion for all motorists.
  • I-75 at Forest Parkway – Longer access lanes will make entering and exiting I-75 smoother, reducing congestion and improving safety for trucks and commuters in the Atlanta Aerotropolis area.
  • SR 92 in Douglas Co. – Realignment allows trucks to pass through Douglasville more efficiently.
  • Lithonia Industrial Blvd. at I-20 – Realignment of the Lithonia Boulevard Extension provides improved access for freight.

Looking further out toward 2040 and major increases in freight traffic, the plan includes some key long-range projects too:

  • I-75 near Bethlehem Road – A new interchange in Henry County, a major freight hub, will serve freight to and from Savannah and relieve congestion for all motorists at other nearby interchanges.
  • I-85 at Amlajack Boulevard – This new interchange in growing Coweta County will serve industrial and commercial freight while reducing congestion for all motorists at the Highway 34 interchange.

Freight-dependent industries generate roughly 38 percent of the Atlanta region’s gross domestic product today and are responsible for approximately 900,000 jobs. With experts projecting a 76 percent increase in the amount of freight travelling through and within metro Atlanta by 2040, the region must plan for a future that includes many more trucks on the roads and train cars on the rails.

With more than 70,000 truckloads making the journey between the Port of Savannah and metro Atlanta every year, almost 75 percent of all the region’s freight is carried on trucks. However, increases in rail and air cargo will help moderate congestion on the roads.

“Our updated freight plan is all about getting people the goods they need,” said John Orr, manager of ARC’s Transportation Access and Mobility Division. “For people in other parts of the Southeast, that means trucks passing through Atlanta in a timely manner. For people here, it means groceries on the shelf, lumber at the construction site and gifts delivered to their front doors.”

Future freight planning efforts will better service warehouse/distribution clusters, improve rail crossings, implement new technologies, and provide additional safe, convenient truck parking. They will also ensure that our region is well-positioned to compete for new federal grants specifically for freight projects.

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the official planning agency for the 10-county Atlanta Region, including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties as well as the City of Atlanta and 70 other cities. The Atlanta Regional Commission serves as a catalyst for regional progress by focusing leadership, attention and planning resources on key regional issues.

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