A regional initiative to leverage federal funds to rectify historical transportation decisions that have divided communities and hindered economic opportunities.

Reconnecting the Region

Scroll for more

The Challenge: Divided by Infrastructure

Metro Atlanta’s growth has been fueled by major transportation infrastructure projects like the interstate highways, freight rail lines, and the airport.

The logistics industry remains one of the most important economic engines in the Atlanta region.

However, some of these landmark projects have another legacy: dividing communities, often along racial and socioeconomic lines.

The impact of these past decisions is felt across the Atlanta region in measures such as the poverty rate, education and health.

This map depicts poverty rates in the Atlanta region. The red and dark orange colors on this map are the communities with the highest rates of poverty. The blues and greens are wealthier neighborhoods.

It’s easy to spot a stark dividing line where I-20 bisects the region.

The same pattern holds true for other measures, such as third grade reading scores.

On this map, the reds and oranges depict communities with higher scores, while the blues and greens are lower scores.

The Opportunity: Tapping New Federal Funding Sources

Federal legislation, including the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, has made available billions of dollars in new funding through competitive grant programs.

Ten grant applications are expected to open through the end of 2024, awarding $8.75 billion, with more to come through fiscal 2026.

The federal government has prioritized projects that:

  • Are multi-jurisdictional or regional in scope.
  • Aim to reconnect communities divided by infrastructure.
  • Improve access to jobs, education, healthcare, food, green space, and recreation.
  • Foster equitable development and restoration

The Initiative: Reconnecting the Region

ARC aims to work with local governments and other regional stakeholders to leverage federal grants to rectify historical transportation decisions that have divided communities and hindered economic opportunities.

These grants are highly competitive. To better position applications for success, ARC will work with local governments to focus grant applications on the unifying theme of “Reconnecting the Region.”

We will also prioritize transportation investments that aim to reduce barriers of access for communities that have been historically underinvested in and are disadvantaged.

A Successful Start

In 2023, ARC worked with our community partners to identify several catalytic regional projects that fit the Reconnecting the Region theme and stood the best chance of winning funding.

Several of these projects have received funding, including the Flint River to Atlanta BeltLine trail, which received a $50 million grant in March 2024 from the U.S. DOT’s Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods program.

Other projects that have received funding include:

  • The Stitch ($158 million), rendering at right, which aims to cap a portion of the Downtown Connector with green space to reconnect neighborhoods divided by the highway’s construction 80 years ago.
  • Regional Electrification Program ($6.1 million), which aims to install free EV chargers across the Atlanta region, with a focus on serving disadvantaged communities to ensure an equitable EV transition.

Other Projects

Three other Reconnecting the Region projects have been identified and in various stages of the application process. These include:

  • Chattahoochee RiverLands (rendering at right), an envisioned network of greenways, parks, and water recreation access points along the river throughout the Atlanta region. Status: ARC has applied for a grant through the federal RAISE program
  • Clayton County Bus Rapid Transit service to better connect communities to major regional job centers. Status: Strong candidate for RAISE grant funding to expedite planned construction timeline.
  • State Route 400 BRT Stations, which would provide regional connections to major job centers in Alpharetta and Roswell.

Next Steps

All of this is just a starting point. Reconnecting the Region is a constantly evolving initiative.

As a next step, additional projects must be identified that align with the Reconnecting the Region theme and stand a good chance of winning funding.

The ARC Board and staff are working with local governments and transportation agencies to develop and prioritize a list of projects that could help transform our region.

So stay tuned. The work has only begun.