As required by law, the Cobb Board of Commissioners will conduct a public hearing before hiring a consultant to develop a draft environmental impact statement for the Northwest Atlanta Corridor Alternatives Analysis Study. The hearing will take place during commissioners’ Tuesday meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. in the second floor meeting room at 100 Cherokee St. in Marietta.
Additional public hearings will take place on hiring consultants for engineering services related to transportation projects funded by the 2011 SPLOST and for developing personalized travel training services for Cobb Community Transit. The hearings are required because the projects are each expected to cost more than $100,000.
The Alternatives Analysis is intended to determine the preferred mode of transportation for Cobb in the Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 41 corridor. While a bus rapid transit line went into the TSPLOST project list, Chairman Tim Lee said that might not be the service the study determines is best.
“Its sole purpose is to determine the mode, the alignment and the funding model,” Lee said.
Transportation modes being considered include light rail, express bus and bus rapid transit, which would differ from express bus because it could require some stations to be built, special lanes on the road and for signal priority to be given at intersections, said Laraine Vance, planning manager with the Cobb Department of Transportation.
The study must take into account the environmental consequences of building the rail, Vance said.
“Might the project have an impact on the water? Might the project have an impact on the air. Might it impact noise?” she said. “Will any historical structures be impacted?”
The study is also expected to consider light rail, which had been Cobb’s transit mode of choice until it was pulled from the project list just before the 21-member Atlanta Regional Roundtable finalized it in October. The line would have connected the Cumberland Mall area with MARTA’s Arts Center Station in Midtown Atlanta.
Though residents of a 10-county area are scheduled to vote on adding the penny sales tax to pay for transportation projects later this year, a new transit mode can still be substituted later on.
The federal government is paying for 80 percent of the $1.88 million study, with Cobb County responsible for matching $375,864, county spokesman Robert Quigley said. The county’s share comes from the 2011 Transportation Improvements Program, part of the SPLOST passed last year. The study is due in 2013.
Commissioners will also vote on placing a traffic signal at the intersection of the East-West Connector and Gaylor Streets. The project was tabled in November after Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said the city of Smyrna should pay for part of it. Though the county owns the streets being affected, the intersection is located just within Smyrna city limits.
Since the county tabled the item, the Smyrna City Council voted to pay $35,000 toward the $255,695 project. Cobb County will pay $70,695 from 2005 SPLOST funds and developers of two nearby shopping centers will chip in $150,000. The county had originally considered spending more than $105,000 for the project, which will also include roadway and median improvements at the intersection.
“I appreciate the fact that council approved the agenda item,” Ott said.