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Buckhead CID partners with others on study
by Noreen Cochran
nside@neighbornewspapers.com
January 30, 2013 04:36 PM | 1377 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jim Durrett
Jim Durrett
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The unincorporated Cobb County-based Town Center Area Community Improvement District literally bought into a Fulton County-based project last week, approving 7-0 to spend $7,500 from its $3 million budget for a regional study.

Buckhead CID Executive Director Jim Durrett made the request at the TCA CID meeting last week.

He said George Washington University’s business school studied places in the Washington region where sidewalks, trails and other pedestrian amenities were prominent.

The research project of “walkable” urban places, titled WalkUP, revealed a potential economic development engine, he said.

“The degrees of walkability related to the value of the real estate and the rents they would get, both commercial and residential,” Durrett said. “It discovered a very clear connection between the two.”

He said that with the Atlanta Regional Commission recently engaged as a research partner with GWU and Georgia Tech, the cost of the study plunged almost half, from $190,000 to $110,000.

“My hope is we could get the majority of the established CIDs to put something into this so the CIDs could get something out of it,” Durrett said. “It could be our gift to the metro Atlanta region, a road map of how we go forward to create more of these walkable places.”

So far, he said, the Buckhead, Cumberland and North Fulton CIDs committed $25,000 each, while Midtown pledged $12,500 and Downtown will contribute $7,500.

“That puts us $15,000 shy of making the budget,” Durrett said. “I’m here to ask you to consider becoming part of the funding group to do this.”

He said the participating CIDs will get something in return — “good information” to pinpoint where to create or enhance existing WalkUPs, and major companies looking at Atlanta as a place to relocate.

Town Center Area CID Executive Director Mason Zimmerman agreed, suggesting they split the $15,000 with the Perimeter CIDs.

“Our walkability score here is important to families and employers,” he said. “It’s important that we participate.”

In other business, Georgia Department of Transportation engineer Darryl VanMeter updated the TCA CID on the Northwest Corridor, which is a plan to put managed lanes on Interstates 75 and 575.

The $950 million project is scheduled to be completed in April 2018.

He said the 30 miles of new lanes would be managed by different tools to meet the primary objective, which is to help morning and evening commuters maintain highway speeds of 45 mph.

However, VanMeter cautioned that “tolling” the roads, or earning revenue by charging drivers to use the new lanes, was not the primary goal.

“We use the toll to moderate the demand,” he said. “Tolling is a tool you use so you have that free flow. Tolling will be adjusted to achieve the objective.”

The managed lanes will be open to light trucks as well as passenger vehicles, VanMeter said, and buses will not be charged.

“Transit will go free,” he said.

Financing will be through a public-private partnership, VanMeter said, with GDOT and private construction companies to make an 80/20 split.

A request for proposals was sent out Dec. 7 and is due back June 10, he said.

VanMeter said the project has “commitment” from Gov. Nathan Deal and a national distinction.

“We are the first in the U.S. to study this network,” VanMeter said. “We are the leader on the concept.”
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