AACIDs is Bringing South Metro Atlanta into the 21st Century

Years in the making; ATL Airport Community Improvement Districts (AACIDs) bring forward workable plan for mobility.

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Mobility is defined as freedom of movement. When we talk about it in reference to a city’s infrastructure, we are talking about increasing accessibility within a physical community. In focusing on mobility, we create structure that encourages growth and connectivity both inside the community and out. This is the goal of the ATL Airport Community Improvement Districts (AACIDs), to create a space where mobility doesn’t just mean one rail system or paying for ride shares.

The ATL Airport Community Improvement Districts (AACIDs) are comprised of the Airport West Community Improvement District (AWCID) and the Airport South Community Improvement District (ASCID). Since 2014, the 15.46 square mile districts represent two counties and six cities in the South Metro region. According to the State of Georgia statute, CIDs are “special purpose, autonomous, nonprofit, public-private partnerships with the power to self-tax industrial and commercial property owners within their districts and pool those funds for public improvement projects.” CIDs have been playing a large role in improving the state’s infrastructure since the 1980s and now there are more than 30 active CIDs across the state.

The AACIDs is using its resources to focus on the area surrounding the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. This area has been the subject of numerous studies and extensive research with the intention of finding out the best way to improve local transportation and make the area more accessible for the community. After conducting a major study called the Transit Feasibility Study in 2018­, the AACIDs has developed a plan called Automated Transit Network in South Metro. The vision of this plan is to use technological innovations to increase mobility and improve the quality of life for the South Metro community.

Gerald McDowell, Executive Director of AACIDs has been involved since the early discussion about the steps needed to create transit options in the South Metro. “It’s been our goal for over five years to execute the recommendations from the Transit Feasibility Study to advocate for a workable plan to use emerging mobility solutions for on-demand, easy and efficient movement of people without relying on an automobile,” said McDowell.

The AACIDs has been investigating multiple solutions to address the transit needs of their mobility district.

  • An Automated Transit Network that will provide transportation at all hours for the airport area including airport workers and those who work throughout the CIDs.
  • Collaborating with MARTA to improve the conditions of their stops and shelters.
  • Integrating SMART technology along corridors throughout the CIDs.
  • Providing first mile/last mile connectivity like Autonomous Shuttles at key bus stops and business centers.
  • Using Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). PRT is one of the most affordable ways to improve transportation. It is a kind of automated guideway transit that uses small, automated vehicles that run on a network of guideways. They can be different sizes and are capable of point-to-point, nonstop travel. Where MARTA trains cost $1b/mile, PRTs cost $10-30 million/mile.
  • Using Microtransit to provide on-demand transit services to supplement the existing MARTA services.

The goals of South Metro Atlanta are layered. McDowell goes on to say, “The creation of a successful and sustainable mobility infrastructure expands our business economic possibilities, and in turn improves property values for our constituents, business development and the lives of those in the communities in South Metro Atlanta.”

AACIDs has working relationships support from entities all over airport area including HJAIA, Fulton County, Clayton County, cities of Atlanta, College Park, East Point, Forest Park, Hapeville and South Fulton, MARTA, Atlanta Transit Link Authority, Georgia Department of Transportation and Aerotropolis Alliance. As Atlanta continues to grow and expand, its infrastructure will need to expand with it to manage the changes. AACIDs’ innovative transit plan allows for this growth to happen while simultaneously improving the quality of life for the people already in the area.

With the success of AACIDs’ plan, South Metro will reflect some of the world’s most efficient and high-quality transportation systems. It will offer greener options for travel, safer options for pedestrians and cyclists, and smoother navigation for the world’s busiest airport. AACIDs’ innovative transit plan will bring South Metro into the 21st century.

McDowell ends with a thought about the future, “It’s been extremely rewarding for our Board, Partners and the AACIDs team, to be at the point where the future is here. It’s within our reach to continue the work in creating the 21st century transportational network.”

For information on the plan moving forward visit the ATL Airport Community Improvement Districts website.

Map of Airport area for Georgia and the busiest airport area mobility

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