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Atlanta-Area Congestion Reduction Demonstration Description

On November 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Transportation (the "Department") announced its designation of Atlanta, Georgia, as a CRD Partner, based on the terms of an agreement signed by the Department and its Atlanta Region Partner Agencies (the "Partner Agencies"): the Georgia Department of Transportation ("GDOT"), the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority ("GRTA"), and the State Road and Tollway Authority ("SRTA"). On November 21, 2008, the Department and its Partner Agencies signed the CRD Agreement. Under the terms of the CRD Agreement (the "CRD Agreement"), the Partner Agencies agreed that a long-term goal of the Atlanta Region is to implement an integrated system of congestion-priced lanes, enhanced transit service, and innovative technology.

For this CRD project, an existing 16-mile stretch of HOV2+ lanes on I-85, one in each direction, was converted to HOV3+ express lanes. The lanes operate 24/7, and carpools with three or more riders, buses, emergency vehicles, motorcycles, and vehicles with alternative-fuel vehicles license plates can use the lane for free, while single occupant drivers and two-person carpools pay a dynamically priced toll. In November 2013, weekday trips in the express lanes averaged 21,160, as opposed to 18,223 in November 2012. The number of registered "PeachPass" transponders has grown from approximately 75,000 before the lanes opened to over 268,000. With this growth in usage, the average daily toll has increased, from $1.35 in August 2012 to $1.72 in August 2013, and hitting a record high of $8 for the full trip during peak hour traffic in Fall 2013. In addition, a 2013 survey showed 88 percent customer satisfaction with the express lanes after the first 12 months of operation.

Like the other UPA/CRD express lanes projects, the Atlanta project has a transit component, bringing online 36 new Xpress commuter coach buses and 2,200 new spaces in park-and-ride lots along I-85, as well as 45 new commuter coach buses and 5,000 spaces in park-and-ride lots in the remainder of the region. In May 2012, seven months after the start of tolling, riders were asked about the influence of the conversion of the HOV lane to an HOT lane on their decision to ride the bus. While only 13.5 percent of riders who had starting riding prior to tolling said they were influenced to take transit because of the conversion of the lane to tolling, 48.9 percent of riders who began transit after tolling said they were influenced.

Sources and amounts of Federal funding

Under the terms of the CRD Agreement, the Department provided the Partner Agencies with $110 million in funding appropriated under the Research and Innovative Technology Administration's Intelligent Transportation Systems Operating Testing to Mitigate Congestion Program and the Federal Transit Administration's 5309 Bus and Bus Facilities Program. The Partner Agencies used funding to support the implementation of automated enforcement through a controlled access gantry system in the Phase I corridor, evaluation of the impacts of Phase I on reducing congestion, and a variety of transit projects.

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