Every two weeks, Atlanta City Council’s Transportation Committee meets to consider legislation and get updates from Atlanta transportation departments and agencies. We review the agendas in advance, decide what legislation is most relevant to our strategic goals, determine if public support or opposition is needed, then attend the meetings virtually or in person. This is our October summary of the meetings and the issues we're watching.
Transportation Committee Meeting Summaries
Image credit: Rebecca Serna
October 12, 2022
Our focus at this meeting was the proposal to fast-track downtown repavings, but before the committee got to that legislation, Commissioner Bomar was invited to speak about the recently-published Strategic Delivery Plan for the “Moving Atlanta Forward Infrastructure Program."
The Commissioner reminded the committee that the plan is a draft until approved by Council, and shared one change – a bond requirement that projects be “delivered” in a 3-5 year timeframe (“delivered” was later defined as dollars spent). She added that changes to procurement will be instrumental to delivering projects more quickly, along with 12 teams of consultants used to supplement very limited ATLDOT staff.
We’ve been hearing and seeing this more and more: there simply aren’t enough ATLDOT staff to manage all the transportation projects the City of Atlanta has promised to build. While there is no published organizational chart, we believe there are 5 project managers currently working for the Atlanta Department of Transportation and that each one is managing 10-12 major projects.
ATLDOT’s capital projects page lists 161 projects, not counting the $460.2 Million in transportation projects from the Moving Atlanta Forward infrastructure package approved by voters in May 2022. The funds include council district pots that need to be selected and designed as well. The Commissioner encouraged Councilmembers to work quickly and strategically to select projects that could also be completed within 3-5 years.
Many peer cities’ DOTs have significantly larger budgets than Atlanta’s, allowing them to hire more project managers and designers. For example, Oakland’s Department of Transportation budget is $94.2 Million. According to NACTO, the National Association of City Transportation Officials, the median NACTO member city with 300,000-600,000 residents has a DOT budget of $164.3M. The Atlanta Department of Transportation’s current budget is $57.5M.
Councilmembers seemed appropriately concerned about the staffing gaps. Commissioner Bomar added that she will speak in more detail to the Department’s position vacancies during the quarterly report November 16th.
The World Cup is coming to Atlanta in 2026 and looms large over these conversations. For the City to deliver on its transportation promises, it’s becoming clear the ATLDOT budget must increase – dramatically – in the next fiscal year.
Proposal to fast-track downtown pavings
This discussion is worth watching: starts at -49:28 of the video, or click on the link to the resolution from the left side of the screen.
Councilmembers Jason Dozier and Marci Overstreet requested more communications and project timeline updates for community members. Commissioner Bomar shared that ATLDOT is revamping the project updates section of their website.
October 26, 2022
On October 26, a resolution was introduced to extend hours of shared micromobility devices (e-scooters & bikes) to allow operation between 9 PM (the current curfew) and midnight: 22-R-4521. The item was immediately held at the request of the sponsor.
Mayor Bottoms instituted a "curfew" for shared micromobility devices back in 2019 following the death of 4 scooter riders in metro Atlanta (3 inside Atlanta city limits). At the time, Streetsblog USA noted "...drivers still may use city streets at all hours — even though motor-vehicle crashes killed 115 people in Fulton County, which encompasses most of Atlanta, in 2017." Atlanta Bans E-Scooters at Night After Drivers Kill Four Riders
In Rapid Response Required by City for Safe Streets, we called for the City of Atlanta to create a rapid response team to expedite installation of bike/LIT (Light Individual Transportation) lanes, protect those lanes with quick-build materials, and reduce motor vehicle speeds to make streets safer for people. That team was not created and today, 3 years later, not NEARLY enough progress has been made on the network of bike/LIT lanes. This contributes to operational concerns around scooters, since many riders use them on sidewalks, creating hazards for people walking and especially, using wheelchairs and other mobility devices.
Nonetheless, limiting people's use of one kind of transportation at night is not the solution. The National Safety Council calls night "the most dangerous time to drive" yet no one has suggested limiting driving hours. Many Atlantans rely on shared e-scooters and bikes to travel at night due to other kinds of safety concerns, or because of the lack of frequent and reliable transit service. At the same time, the limited geographic zones for micromobility devices prevent them from being as much help for those trying to get around Atlanta without a car as they could otherwise be. In the early days of scooters in Atlanta, the City instituted requirements that scooters be available in “equity zones” – areas where the market might not otherwise support scooters based on a capitalistic model.
What do you think about Atlanta's scooter "curfew" and the proposal to extend hours to midnight? Let us know by emailing [email protected] Also check out the Arrested Mobility podcast: Electric Scooter Bans.
Image credits: Latrece Ragsdale and Steve Eberhardt