March 1, 2004

Emory, CCTMA launch area transportation study

By Nancy Seideman

Emory, the CDC, the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association (CCTMA) and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta have undertaken a six-month, comprehensive study to identify transportation needs and improvement priorities within the Clifton Corridor area.

The University is working in close partnership with other Clifton Corridor organizations, particularly the recently expanded CDC, to find ways to improve the transportation system in an area that accommodates more than 23,000 employees, nearly 12,000 students and 8,000 patients and visitors each weekday. The corridor is the largest activity center in the Atlanta region without direct access to the interstate system or a MARTA rail station.

"Transportation, as every metro Atlantan knows, is one of the major challenges facing our region in terms of retaining top employees, maintaining the vitality of our businesses and services, and sustaining our quality of life," said Mike Mandl, executive vice president for finance and administration. "For this reason, Emory is working in collaboration with many other organizations, community groups and government agencies to develop and implement a regional approach to improving mobility within the Clifton Corridor. It is one of our highest priorities and critical to our future."

The need to address transportation issues within the corridor took on new urgency in the wake of Sept. 11 and homeland security concerns.

"The corridor provides vital regional and national services through its various public and private health care and public health facilities," Mandl said. "We must be able to effectively access and evacuate the area in the event of a national emergency or natural disaster."

The transportation consulting firm conducting the study, Jacobs Civil Inc., will assess the current transportation situation in the corridor and prepare projections of how additional growth and development--including "pass through" traffic resulting from metro Atlanta's expansion--will affect the Clifton Corridor.

In addition to interviewing a broad range of Emory faculty and staff on relevant advisory committees, the consultants will talk with representatives from numerous organizations including the American Cancer Society, VA Medical Center, Druid Hills Civic Association, Clairmont Heights Civic Association, MARTA, Emory/CDC Bicycle Users Group, Georgia Department of Transportation and the Clean Air Campaign. The study includes a process for reporting results back to stakeholders and advisory groups.

One major goal is to coordinate the resulting action plan with other regional planning efforts, including the University's Campus Plan Update 2004 and development plans currently under way at CDC, Children's Healthcare and DeKalb County (including the county's own comprehensive transportation plan).

Exploring the possibility of expanding current alternative options, such as shuttles and bike/pedestrian routes, and considering new options will be very much part of the transportation study, which will look at issues including safety, air pollution and time spent in traffic. Thanks to the 11-member CCTMA's support, about 13 percent of the corridor's employees currently use a commute alternative.

"We anticipate that, with the cooperation of the county, the corridor will benefit immediately from simple improvements such as signal timing," Mandl said. "But we also are excited by the opportunity to develop innovative solutions to our transportation challenges that will serve as a model for other metro Atlanta communities. There is no question that this effort will take the full cooperation of the major employers, the governmental agencies and the community. The most important outcome will be to significantly enhance the security and quality of life of all of our citizens."