Emory Report

 November 10, 1997

 Volume 50, No. 12

Emory forms transportation management association
with Clifton neighbors

Along with several other businesses and organizations located along Clifton Road or near the University, Emory has formed a transportation management association (TMA) to address the area's traffic and transit problems.

Emory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Veterans Administration Hospital (and the VA regional office, scheduled to move from its downtown location in 1999), Wesley Woods, the American Cancer Society, Egleston Hospital, Emory Clinic, Ben Franklin Academy, Sage Hill shopping center and representatives from Emory Village all have made monetary commitments to join the TMA, one of four in Atlanta selected to equally split more than $600,000 in federal Congestion, Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) funds.

DeKalb County Commissioner Gale Walldorff first brought all the entitites together this summer and encouraged them to form the association. The Atlanta Regional Commission later informed the fledgling TMA of the availability of the CMAQ funds and got things rolling. Since the money would be available on an 80-20 percent matching basis, the TMA had to raise $40,000 by Jan. 1, 1998, to qualify. In a few short months, it has surpassed that goal by about $8,000, and the Clifton Corridor TMA is now forming a board of directors and incorporating itself as a nonprofit organization.

TMAs have been popping up across the country for nearly 20 years, usually in congested business districts. Public and private organizations join together to cooperatively tackle transporation and air-quality issues. One advantage of such solidarity is TMAs give their members a unified voice with which to address local government. Three other TMAs in Atlanta-serving the Cumberland, central Perimeter and Buckhead areas-also qualified for the CMAQ funding.

Cheryle Crumley, Emory's director of alternative transporation, will serve as interim director for the Clifton Corridor TMA until its board can make a permanent appointment. In fact, Crumley said Emory will be the "champion" of the TMA since the University is the single largest entity involved and is already running many of the programs the TMA hopes to provide.

"Emory is prepared to take the ball and run with it," Crumley said. "In a lot of ways we're patterning ourselves after one in California with UCLA. Their TMA is called Westwood, and UCLA is their champion."

Crumley said the TMA at first will "piggy back" onto the alternative transporation programs Emory is currently running, including carpools, vanpools, MARTA subsidies and shuttle service. Other targets for first-year funding include high-occupancy vehicle parking, educational materials, signage and other programs. One of the first items on the agenda, Crumley said, could be to survey each entity's employees on traffic and commuter options, as Emory did with its employees a few years back.

One example of the cooperative nature of the TMA is expanded shuttle service. Crumley said the members are discussing expansion of Emory's A shuttle route, which currently runs from Wesley Woods down Clifton to Fishburne, down to Pierce Drive, up to Asbury Circle, then to Clifton and back to Wesley Woods. The route could be expanded to include Emory Village at the southern end and Sage Hill shopping center to the north, and Wesley Woods has offered one of its vans to offset the expanded route's extra time.

"This is the kind of leveraging which, if everyone works together, we can do," Crumley said. "We've only made minor modifications to an existing route at minimal cost. Emory benefits, the whole corridor benefits. The two business entities which have made financial commitments to the TMA now get more customers."

Another example would be a big increase in potential matches for carpools and vanpools. "Emory's got 14,000 employees now," said Erick Gaither, director of community services, "but think about another 7,000 or 8,000 employees in our database. While there might not be enough Emory employees in a particular neighborhood, it's possible with the other entities that we could get a vanpool together.

"Not to mention that there are 11,000 students who could benefit from any program we start, in terms of shuttles or even carpools and vanpools."

As far as the future of the TMA beyond the $156,000 in federal funds it will receive, Crumley said additional money may come from other sources. It will have to, since the federal monies work on a reimbursement basis and only expenses spent directly on reducing vehicular miles traveled (elimination of single-occupant vehicles) qualify-administrative expenses do not count. Even though several entities have pledged in-kind services to handle such expenses as postage, office space and secretarial help, more money will be needed should the TMA continue to grow.

But the Clifton Corridor TMA already is getting attention from DeKalb County commissioners, MARTA, Georgia Power, the Georgia Department of Transportation and offices of Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Sen. Paul Coverdell. "A lot of people have a vested interest in this," Crumley said.

"If this brings any release from traffic, it will be interesting," said George Goldman, an Emory Village property owner. "I'm glad that we're keeping our finger in the pie, that we were even invited to participate. I hope the cooperation increases in the future because we like being involved."

-Michael Terrazas

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