Aerotropolis Corridor May Be Latest In Metro ATL to Go Hi-Tech

Virginia Avenue smart corridor rendering

It’s not rocket science, but smart technology is taking off in a way that may be revolutionizing how we travel in metro Atlanta.

One of the “driving” forces in this revolution is C-V2X – meaning “cellular-vehicle-to-everything.”

This technology uses the emerging 5G network to allow vehicles to communicate with – you guessed it – pretty much everything around them. This can include things like “smart” traffic signals, street lights, and parking meters.

Thanks to funding from ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) and the Aerotropolis Community Improvement Districts, a two-mile corridor near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is getting a dose of smart technology.

Between Main Street (U.S. 29) in College Park and South Central Avenue in Hapeville, Virginia Avenue crosses I-85 and also sees foot-traffic at all hours thanks to the various hotels and businesses that line the corridor. The mix of vehicular and pedestrian traffic on this busy road present safety and mobility challenges, but also make this stretch of Virginia Avenue the perfect candidate for a smart corridor study!

A number of streetscape improvements have been proposed to address walkability and safety. These improvements include new crosswalks, and a “road diet” – a slimming down of vehicular lanes to accommodate other modes such as walking or biking.

But newer, “smarter” solutions can help tackle safety and mobility constraints, and LCI funding can help make these solutions a reality.

The technology provides opportunities for more efficient traffic flow, using signal priority for public transit, and signal pre-emption for emergency vehicles. The new technology can even alert drivers to the presence of pedestrians in crosswalks, or warn them of upcoming bottlenecks.

At Virginia Avenue, some technology may get off the ground with the help of partnerships. The corridor project is experimenting with smart public transportation, and may even use a MARTA non-revenue service vehicle to test signal priority, pedestrian detection, and other safety features to be built into the smart corridor.  Thanks to the Georgia Department of Transportation, 4G LTE devices were installed along the corridor, along with software that allows the signals to communicate with one another and back to the traffic management center, all before the LCI smart corridor study was even complete!

Other smart corridors are popping up around the region, and more will likely be a reality in the near future. Regional implementation of C-V2X technology will begin to roll out in 2020. And in 2022, the Ford Motor Company will equip all of its new vehicles with 5G technology.

What’s Next ATL, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is a community resource that explores how metro Atlanta is growing and changing, and how the region is addressing its most pressing challenges.