Expanded trail networks. Lively town centers. Roads designed for walkers and bicyclists, not just cars.

These are just some of the transformative ideas that 10 communities across metro Atlanta will be studying, thanks to $1.6 million in grants from the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Livable Centers Initiative.

Think of LCI grants as a way for cities, counties, and other places to think outside the box about what changes they can make to become more livable. Of course, “livable” means different things to different people, and that’s reflected in the wide variety of studies being funded through this year’s grants.

Here’s how ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker put it in a recent news release about the 2019 LCI planning grants: “So many of us today want to live and work in dynamic, lively places where you can walk or bike to get your errands done, grab a meal, or visit with friends. These investments will help foster these kinds of spaces throughout metro Atlanta.”

OK, let’s take a closer look at some of the 2019 LCI grant recipients:

Gwinnett County to Study Potential of Proposed BRT Line

Grant amount: $400,000

Gwinnett County’s long-range transportation plan includes a bus rapid transit line (think rail-like service, but with rubber-tire vehicles) between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Sugarloaf Parkway. The project isn’t funded yet, but the BRT line holds enormous potential for redevelopment, especially around proposed BRT stations.

The county will work closely with the Gateway85, Gwinnett Place, and Sugarloaf community improvement districts to develop land use and design recommendations to support and enhance the proposed BRT line. Areas of focus include creative placemaking and affordable housing.

Peachtree City to Explore Creation of Town Center

Grant amount: $128,000

Peachtree City is known far and wide for its innovative network of golf cart paths and village-style commercial hubs. But city leaders say the area lacks a vibrant town center that would anchor the Fayette County city.

The LCI grant would enable the city to update its 2000 LCI plan and study the potential redevelopment of the City Hall area and nearby Aberdeen Village commercial district into more walkable, connected places.

Alpharetta to Develop Plan for Connecting Trails

Grant amount: $150,000

Alpharetta calls its Alpha Loop Trail its version of the Atlanta BeltLine. The North Fulton city will use its LCI grant to develop a concept study for connecting the Alpha Loop Trail with Big Creek Greenway, with links to the planned North Point BRT station.

The Alpha Loop is a trail project that connects people, places, activities and jobs in the core of Alpharetta. It has two sections: a 3-mile inner loop and a 5-mile outer loop. Big Creek Greenway is a 20-mile multi-use trail that connects Alpharetta with Cumming and Roswell.

Town Center CID Looks to Transform Chastain Road Corridor

Chastain Road, a key thoroughfare that runs along the north side of the Town Center CID and near Kennesaw State University, could be in store for a major upgrade.

The CID will use its LCI grant to study how to transform the road into a “walkable entertainment area” that includes multi-use trail connections, traffic calming, last-mile connectivity, and a greater sense of place.

The Town Center CID is already studying other major corridors in the area with the goal of using a “complete streets” design that accommodates walkers and bicyclists as well as vehicles.

Other 2019 LCI Grant Recipients:

Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts

Grant amount: $350,000

The Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs, in cooperation with the cities of East Point, Forest Park, Hapeville, South Fulton, and Union City, and Clayton County, will study the development of seven trail segments in the area.

Artist’s rendering of a potential trail development in the Aerotropolis Atlanta area
Artist’s rendering of a potential trail development in the Aerotropolis Atlanta area

Caption: Artist’s rendering of a potential trail development in the Aerotropolis Atlanta area

Little Five Points Community Improvement District

Grant amount: $100,000

The Little Five Points CID, in cooperation with the city of Atlanta, will develop a plan to redesign Euclid Avenue through the area’s commercial district from Austin Avenue to Moreland Avenue, focusing on pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure, wayfinding, greenspace and green infrastructure, technology-based parking management, and other smart city technologies.

City of Auburn

Grant amount: $96,000

The city of Auburn will use its LCI grant to create a blueprint for development within its downtown area to attract new jobs and residents.

City of Dallas

Grant amount: $96,000

This major plan update to the Downtown Dallas LCI study will establish new goals for the area and ensure that development regulations are aligned with the LCI plan.

Tucker-Northlake CID

Grant Amount: $80,000

The project will focus on recreating the historic grid in downtown Tucker by prioritizing segments necessary to complete the grid, examining possible funding strategies, and addressing potential zoning issues.

City of Sugar Hill

Grant amount: $70,000

The city will design an extension of the Sugar Hill Greenway and perform a feasibility analysis of a crossing over State Route 20 to improve connections from residential areas to the city’s downtown. Sugar Hill will also examine pedestrian safety along the highway.

Artist’s rendering of potential improvements to improve connectivity to downtown Sugar Hill
Artist’s rendering of potential improvements to improve connectivity to downtown Sugar Hill

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.