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 agree 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. To implement such a network, the Partner Agencies agree to (1) institute Phase I of the network, consisting of dynamically-priced high occupancy toll ("HOT") lanes and supporting transit elements on I-85 from I-285 to Old Peachtree Road, by January 31, 2011 ("Phase I"); and (2) complete the full 49 mile network by implement additional High Occupancy Vehicle ("HOV")-to-HOT conversions along I-85, I-75, and I-20, subject to the availability of funding. In exchange for these commitments, the Department intends to provide $110 million in Federal grant assistance to the Partner Agencies. Also included in the grant is $30 million for transit service enhancement that will operate on the newly converted expressways. The funding will go towards the purchase of new buses and the construction and expansion of park-and-ride facilities.
Projects Atlanta Partner Agencies will implement
1. HOV-to-HOT conversions. A long-term goal of the Atlanta Region is to implement a network of congestion-priced lanes. The CRD Agreement commits the Partner Agencies to establishing the first phase of such a network through HOV-to-HOT conversions on I-85, stretching from I-285 to Old Peachtree Road. Future phases of Atlanta's congestion plan will include a 49-mile network of additional HOT lanes along I-85, I-75, and I-20.
2. Transit projects. To support the successful and equitable operation of congestion pricing, the Partner Agencies will enhance its transit services. The Partner Agencies may use up to $39.5 million of Federal grant funding under the CRD Agreement to implement any of a wide list of projects listed on the region's approved Transportation Improvement Program, so long as such projects are eligible for funding under the programmatic source of the Federal grants. Such projects could include bus fleet acquisitions, park-and-ride facility improvements, or numerous other transit-related activities.
Under the terms of the CRD Agreement, the HOT lanes shall be in revenue operation no later than January 31, 2011, unless otherwise agreed by DOT and the Partner Agencies.
Other key terms of the agreement
The Partner Agencies may not draw down any funding obligated in connection with the CRD Agreement until they comply with the following conditions (among others):
Sources and amounts of Federal funding
Under the terms of the CRD Agreement, the Department will provide 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. As described above, the Partner Agencies may use this 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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