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March 15, 2019 4:30 PM, EDT

Atlanta Mayor Announces Creation of City’s Own DOT

Keisha Lance Bottoms Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms speaks at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in January. (Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics)

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced March 14 that her city will soon have its own transportation department.

The agency, which Bottoms unveiled during her State of the City address, will focus on improving connections between neighborhoods, jobs and schools. The Atlanta Department of Transportation, as it will be called, is an aspect of the mayor’s One Atlanta initiative to promote equity and inclusion.

“Today, I am proud to announce the creation of Atlanta’s first dedicated department of transportation, a one-stop-shop combining the work of multiple city departments, to better deliver for Atlanta’s mobility future.”

The department will manage roadway repair and maintenance activities, bike lane construction and traffic signal upgrades, for example. It is also meant to consolidate tasks undertaken by other city agencies, such as the Department of Public Works, which handles construction and repair operations, and the Department of City Planning’s Office of Mobility, which is in charge of long-term planning. These agencies are among the several departments that manage the city’s 1,500 miles of streets.

Bottoms said one goal is to offer more transportation choices for people living in and traveling to Atlanta. She mentioned that her grandmother depended on the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority’s services every day for 30 years in order to get to work.

“Like my grandmother, there are many working families who rely on public transportation. But the importance of transportation extends beyond buses and trains,” Bottoms said.

The Atlanta City Council authorized a study examining the creation of a city DOT in 2017, which was followed by a feasibility assessment from the mayor’s office in 2018. The city council will now review Bottoms’ proposal and enact legislation authorizing the department.

The agency is scheduled to be set up in the spring. Bottoms will appoint a leader once the agency is created.

Bottoms has authorized the drafting of a transportation plan to outline the new agency’s goals and accountability measures.

Traffic in Atlanta

Traffic moves slowly through metro Atlanta. (Carol VanHook/Flickr)

“For two years, I’ve envisioned and worked to establish an Atlanta Department of Transportation because our residents deserve better coordination, effectiveness, mobility and citizen engagement from our transportation network,” said Andre Dickens, an at-large representative of the Atlanta City Council. “I would like to thank Mayor Bottoms for her full support and several key members of her Cabinet for working with us to plan, design and implement this new department.”

Jacob Tzegaegbe, the mayor’s senior transportation adviser, will oversee the process of developing the organizational structure of the new agency.

Atlanta’s population — and transportation needs — are growing. The Atlanta Regional Commission projects that the metro Atlanta region will add more than 2.5 million people and 1 million jobs by 2040.

Atlanta is also home to some of the most congested bottlenecks in the country. Its five-level stack interchange where interstates 285 and 85 North intersect, known as “Spaghetti Junction,” ranked No. 2 on the American Transportation Research Institute’s truck bottlenecks report, released Feb. 12. (This intersection came in at No. 1 on last year’s report.)

The third spot on ATRI’s list, the intersection between I-75 and I-285 North, also belongs to Atlanta.