Tag Archives: ARC

Monday Salmagundi

27 Aug
  • Good news/bad news from MARTA: A new round of bus service changes – mostly to align published arrival times more closely with when the buses are really showing up – went into effect Saturday for 27 routes. But the southwest entrance to Peachtree Center Station is open again, after being closed for two years for renovation and repairs. Peachtree Center Station, southwest entrance
    • From BuckheadView: Representatives of the ownership at Lenox Square mall presented proposed changes to the mall’s facade to the neighborhood’s design review committee. One of the new features to the entrance will be pedestrian access directly from Peachtree Road. That will be a big improvement on this:Pedestrians at Lenox Square
    • From Curbed Atlanta: Stanley Beaman Sears was selected in the City of Atlanta’s design competition as the firm to convert the first floor lobby of 72 Marietta Street into a gallery space. The building was formerly The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s headquarters building. The newspaper’s parent company donated the building to the city after the AJC’s move to Dunwoody in 2010.
  • The latest “regional snapshot”from the Atlanta Regional Commission focuses on the dramatic slowdown in the Atlanta metro area’s population growth in the last few years. The region’s population increased by about 37,200 people between April 1, 2011 and April 1, 2012 and by about 72,000 in the last two years, according to ARC’s research. In comparison, the region’s population increased by about 100,000 people each year during the decade between 1990 and 2000.

The root of the change, unsurprisingly, is in the wobbly economy. “The Atlanta region’s slowdown is directly attributable to the national economy. During weak economic periods, people don’t move as much because, firstly, job opportunities are slim, thus people aren’t moving to take new jobs. Secondly, with the housing market in such disarray, it is hard to sell a house, which tends to keep people in the same place,” ARC concluded.

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Regional rider surveys reveal locations, destinations, situations

1 Jul

Lindbergh Station_south end

Research from the Atlanta Regional Commission suggests that while geography is a pretty good predictor of where to find the most frequent transit users, who those users are is harder to pin down.

The ARC’s research concluded that “the percent of those using transit to go to work doubles in neighborhoods with close proximity to transit, and more than triples in areas with ‘premium’ transit access.” In short, to paraphrase William Whyte, people tend to use transit where there is transit to use.

Those “premium” transit areas, which the researchers define as neighborhoods within a half-mile of a transit station, tend to be populated by a higher percentage of college graduates and renters than the 20-county Atlanta metropolitan region as a whole. But those areas also have more residents living in poverty and who have less than a high-school diploma compared to the rest of the region.

Despite their easy access to transit, only about 13 percent of the people who live in those transit-rich neighborhoods said that they usually take transit to work. But that relatively small number is still close to four times more than the region as a whole, at less than 4 percent.

People between the ages of 18 and 34 make up more than 52 percent of transit riders, while they make up only 24 percent of the region’s total population. Most of the trips riders took – almost 62 percent – were between home and work or school.

Although 71 percent of the surveyed riders said they had a driver’s license, 41 percent said they didn’t have a vehicle available. At the other end of the spectrum, 27 percent of riders lived in households with at least two available vehicles.

The survey also found that about 51 percent of transit riders had household incomes of less than $30,000. That’s more than twice the percentage of households in the region as a whole falling into that income range.

See a full summary of the data in the ARC’s May “Regional Snapshot.”

72 Marietta Street and TIA Q&A

23 May

The building was left vacant in 2010 when the Atlanta Journal-Constitution moved to offices in Dunwoody and the paper’s parent company donated the building to the city a few months later. The short-listed firms will present their designs to a panel on June 28, the winner of the competition will be announced July 1 and the gallery is scheduled to open in October.

  • If you’re still in the air about which way to vote in the July transportation tax referendum, or you have questions you haven’t been answered anywhere else, you can pull up a chair at one of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 12 “wireside chats” in June. The conversations with local officials will take place over six days in June and give voters a chance to speak directly to representatives from each of the 10 counties in the Atlanta region.

Here’s how the event works:

“Advertised 6 weeks in advance, citizens will be asked to sign up for any of the 12 chats providing a phone number at which they can be reached. Several days in advance they will receive email reminders with background information attached. The night of the scheduled conversation, citizens will be called at the number they registered and have the opportunity to ask questions. Any question not answered live will be answered in writing following the call. ”

Registration open now, online and at 404.463.3227.

Slow Going: Congestion stats from ARC

21 Feb

Image: ARC

The latest Atlanta Regional Commission’s “Regional Snapshot” shows how Atlanta’s traffic congestion stats stacks up against 14 other major metros. The ARC analyzed data from the American Community Survey, the American Transportation Research Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute and found Atlanta ranked:

  • 11th for total hours of congestion-related delays
  • 9th for the total number of jobs
  • 4th for the total number of hours that commuters spend traveling to their jobs each year. The Atlanta metro average was 126 hours per year, which equals about three weeks of workdays.
  • 4th for the percentage of workers who have at least a 45-minute commute to work
  • 1st in the Southeast for congestion cost per commuter. Here’s how the congestion cost was calculated

Metro Atlanta’s I-285 and 1-85 North interchange also ranked ninth among the 250 most congested bottlenecks in the country, according to American Transportation Research Institute data.

A possible upside to those numbers: “Areas with the most jobs tend to also have the most congestion,” the ARC report said. So, Atlanta’s status as a major job center is still intact, but that might soon be overshadowed by its reputation as a place to sit in traffic on the way to those jobs.

Roundtable approves final TIA project list

13 Oct

ARC's final report At their final meeting, the Atlanta Regional Roundtable today approved the final list of  155 regional transportation projects to be funded by revenue from the proposed 1-percent sales tax that comes up for a vote next year. 

The project list in the roundtable’s report includes only projects to be paid for by the 85 percent of the funding that’s allocated for regional projects. The other 15 percent of the revenue generated by the TIA tax will be distributed to cities and counties within the region to fund local transportation projects.

The Atlanta Regional Commission estimates that the TIA tax will generate about $7.2 billion during the ten years it will be in effect. The regional share of  that funding will come to about $6.1 billion. (Both estimates are in 2011 dollars.)

The report includes not only the project list, but also fact sheets and schedules for each project, so it’ll come in handy if you’re tired of having to fish around on the roundtable’s site to find that information a piece at a time.

Stat-urday: Slow growth, zero-vehicle households and the price of living somewhere less expensive

1 Sep

Population growth in the city and surrounding metro area slowed down dramatically in the second half of the past decade. While that statement might have the ring of a headline from Obvious Monthly, looking at specifics takes it from “Well, Duh” to “Whoa.”

ARC estimated that the 10-county Atlanta metro region’s population grew by 34,550 in the year between April 2010 and April 2011. That’s about 65 percent less than the yearly rate between between 1990 and 2000.

“Over the last three years, essentially since the recession began, the 10-county region has added approximately 91,000 people. To put this into perspective, during the fast-growing 1990s and the 2000 decade, the Atlanta region routinely added 100,000 new residents each year.”

The city of Atlanta, which still hasn’t recovered the more than 70,000 residents it lost between 1970 and 1980, had a net increase of only 697 residents between 2010 and 2011. While that number is still the subject of a dispute between the city and the Census Bureau, it falls well within the pattern of the last 40 years.

The report uses American Community Survey data from the country’s 100 largest metro areas to sketch a profile of the 10 percent of those areas’ households that don’t have a car.

“The United States added over 655,000 roadway lane miles since 1980, leading to the rapid decentralization of housing and jobs. Such decentralization leaves a zero-vehicle household’s most likely travel modes—transit, walking, and biking—at a structural disadvantage due to evergrowing distances between locations.”

Just seven of those 100 metro areas contain nearly half of all the zero-vehicle households studied. The New York area contained 28 percent of them, followed by Chicago, with about 5 percent. Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and Washington, DC rounded out the top seven.  Atlanta was around the middle of the pack, with a little more than one percent of the total.

 Among the study’s findings:

  1. Nearly 60 percent of zero-vehicle households in the country were classified as low-income and nearly 62 percent of them are in the primary cities of their metro areas.
  2. While households without cars tend to congregate in central cities, and transit agencies tend to concentrate their coverage in those areas, about 700,000 zero-vehicle households are in areas not served by transit. In the Atlanta area, 37,634 of the 119,638 households without a car also don’t have transit coverage.
  3. Zero-vehicle households are distibuted pretty evenly across ethnic groups. White households made up 36.4 percent of those without a car, Hispanic households 27.7 percent, and black households 25.3 percent.
  4. People living without a car in suburban areas of the South have less access to jobs than any other group.

With purchase prices for housing having slid a lot in the three years since this index was published, some of the figures are probably a little different now.  But it still illustrates the choice many workers have to make between expensive housing and an expensive commute.

The fact sheet for the Atlanta metro compares combined housing and transportation costs for areas within the city, just outside the city and a far north suburb:

Housing costs for residents of Canton, in Cherokee County, averaged about 26 percent of annual income, while those in Sandy Springs spent almost 36 percent. Around Lenox Square it was almost 40 percent. So, by living much farther outside the city, one might spend around 50 percent less on housing.

But “drive ’til you qualify” only works if you rarely leave home.

Workers living in the neighborhood around Lenox Square spent an average of 16.82 percent of their income on transportation, while workers in Canton spent more than twice as much – 29.12 percent. Workers in Sandy Springs spent 21.78 percent. The difference between the intown commuters and those in Cherokee County is glaring, but even more so taken with the fact that the median annual household income in Canton was $8,376 less than in the Lenox Square area.

The numbers also reflect the raging height of the housing bubble at the end of 2007. If CNT’s numbers are to be believed, the cost of owning a house in the Lenox Square area had spiked to an average of more than 73 percent of the area’s median income. In Cherokee County it was about 27 percent.

If you’re curious about the numbers for your neighborhood, there’s a detailed interactive map for Atlanta and 51 other metro areas at the CNT site.

What happened at Allen Plaza, plus an ARC transportation “wish list” database

18 Apr
W and 12 hotel and residence buildings

An undeveloped parcel of land on Ivan Allen Boulevard sits in the shadow of Allen Plazas W hotel and condominium tower and Novares Twelve Centennial Park

Rachel Tobin wrote a brief but through history of downtown’s troubled Allen Plaza development for Friday’s AJC.

Developer Hal Barry summarized the events leading up to the recent foreclosure of one of the project’s buildings. It’s a story that’s become all too familiar in the last few years:

“We did well and made a lot of money…[a]nd we turned around, as risk-taker developers do, and reinvested a lot of it in operating expenses and project investments. And then the market hits you broadside.”

Also on Friday, the AJC published an overview of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s transportation “wish list,” with a database of all the prospective projects on the region’s list .

Among the items MARTA requested are a variable regional fare system (sometimes referred to as “zone fares”) , on-board security cameras for all buses, trains and paratransit vehicles, an advertising system for the agency’s 10 miles of tunnels and the establishment of a cloud computing system to assist in post-disaster recovery and service continuity.

The 436-item list, with projects totaling about $29 billion, will be pared down first by the GDOT’s planning director, then by the 21 members of the Atlanta Regional Roundtable. Voters in each of the state’s 12 regions will decide during primary elections in 2012 whether to approve a new one percent sales tax to fund their regions’ projects.

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