The City of Atlanta has never had a comprehensive plan to deal with the growing demands on its transportation infrastructure or to project where future capacity will be needed. That was up to now. Now city officials are moving to develop just such a plan.

On Nov. 6, the city kicked off a year-long, 1.25 million study designed to combine input from residents, businesses, commuters and other stakeholders who have completed recent studies, such as the Piedmont Corridor study nearing completion by the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association (BATMA) and the Peachtree Corridor study.

The plan, named “Connect Atlanta,” will be a bottom-up approach and is being overseen by the city’s Assistant Director of Planning & Transportation Heather Alhadeff.

According to reports, while prior studies dealt only with the needs of certain sections of the city or specific modes of transportation, this new plan will encompass all of them.

Transit is likely to take precedence over roads in the new plan even though only a fraction of Atlantans use it. That is where much of the available funding has been spent in recent years, with little left to spend on the city’s deteriorating roads.

Paul Moore, a senior associate with Glatting Jackson Kercher Anglin Inc., which is consulting on the plan with Grice & Associates Inc. and Jordan, Jones & Goulding Inc., confirmed it in press reports, stating, “The emphasis is on transit. We’re creating a vision of what we want the city to be.”

The city is the densest area of metro Atlanta and there simply is no room to add traffic lanes in many places. Indications are that leaves transit, complemented by sidewalks and bike paths.

The plan is not so much about moving people into the city from the suburbs as it is getting them around the city once they arrive. That suggests the BeltLine and proposals such as the Peachtree trolley will be key factors, along with increased MARTA circulators. But the early promise is that the plan won’t neglect the city’s worn and torn-up roads and over-taxed intersections.

Alhadeff’s division has already been working with developers to get them to help pay for new medians, turn lanes, traffic signals and other enhancements when they build new projects.

For instance, Atlanta-based Selig Enterprises Inc. and Daniel Corp. of Birmingham are reuniting the eastern and western portions of 11th Street where it intersects Peachtree in conjunction with their $2.5 billion mixed-use project at 12th & Midtown.

The plan reportedly also will look at truck traffic, including the thousands of tractor trailers that stream out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and the rail yards in northwest Atlanta.

A lot of the ideas that come out of the plan could rely on funding from a proposed regional penny sales tax that the Atlanta Regional Commission is pushing.

–John Schaffner