Transportation across the Atlanta metroplex is highly complex because of the modes involved, the multitude of origins and destinations, and the amount and variety of traffic. Traditionally, the focus of urban transportation has been on passengers as cities, schools, and jobs were viewed as locations of utmost human interactions with intricate traffic patterns linked to commuting, commercial transactions and leisure/cultural activities.
The unplanned and uncoordinated growth of cities our region is experiencing creates virtual concentrations of populations, with people moving from and between the new city centers to Atlanta’s city centers and our "urban periphery." This reduces access and increases demand for public transportation and makes the cost of building and maintaining new public transportation systems and roads prohibitive.
Our demographic indicators continue to change and have challenged communities, elected officials, planners, and average citizens to move beyond historical paradigms for solutions to transportation, employment, housing, and education. Unfortunately traditional thinking steeped in cultural habits and political ideology has kept the Atlanta region from reaching consensus on transportation solutions.
We need enabling processes to improve community decision participation and stakeholder effectiveness in facing up to our primary issues with remedies that incorporate the greatest measure of fairness, cost, and access. Among considerations in defining people and place elements is the opportunity to incorporate social interactions, standards of living, attitudes, assumptions, jurisdictions, community ties, and shared needs. Blending these values and interests into strategies that define improved housing, transportation, quality development, and job creation for future generations should be our goal. The environmental and social impacts are significant because they are directly related to quality of life congestion, energy consumption, air pollution, and urban productivity.
As we anticipate continued increases in regional population and stress on the environment, ineffective planning will not bode well on our existing mixed modal transportation systems and significantly increase the challenge of creating workable future transportation system infrastructure.