Residents of Henry County, Georgia, enjoy the perks of living only 30 minutes south of downtown Atlanta on Interstate 75, along with the benefits of parks and recreation opportunities, plentiful and affordable housing, and attractions like the Atlanta Motor Speedway closer to home. Those perks are reflected in the County’s population growth, which rose 310-percent between 1990 and 2020. With many residents traveling outside the County for work, and development and density on the rise, multimodal transportation was top-of-mind for Henry County officials keen on preserving their community for future generations. In partnership with the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL), the County selected VHB to lead development of the County’s first transit master plan guided by public need and input to elevate public transportation connections and mobility for everyone. In January of 2022, the Henry County Board of Commissioners adopted the new Henry County Transit Master Plan (TMP)—a 30-year blueprint to guide transit investment decisions in both the short- and long-term.
Henry County is part of the greater Atlanta metropolitan region, and its current transit options are limited to a demand response model of curb-to-curb local service scheduled by Henry County Transit (HCT) and commuter bus service provided by ATL Xpress from Hampton, McDonough, and Stockbridge to Atlanta. Henry County has a large population of transit-reliant residents who need a mix of options, including seniors, persons with disabilities, persons living in poverty, and individuals without access to a car. VHB planners collaborated with the community in public meetings and via research and survey to make certain the TMP was people-driven, closely connected to the County’s most transit-reliant populations, and set a vision for additional transit options for everyone.
“Henry County’s transit vision is to provide a safe and dependable, high-quality transit system that enhances quality of life and delivers mobility options for all County residents,” said Regan Hammond, AICP, Transportation Systems Director. “Through both technical analysis and robust stakeholder engagement with County publics, we identified five key transit need areas, including expanding multimodal transportation choices and reducing traffic congestions, that need to be addressed to support the vision.”
VHB’s recommendations included implementing transit solutions focused on expanded transit services, complementary capital investments, and programmatic elements.
- Expanded transit services include introducing new transit modes such as microtransit, local bus routes, express commuter bus routes, and a Rapid Regional Connector.
- Complementary capital investments to support expanded transit services, including additional Park & Ride facilities, mobility hubs, and a new operations and maintenance facility.
- Programmatic plan elements range from first-mile/last-mile pedestrian and bicycle connecting riders to regional fare integration and a marketing and rebranding campaign for Henry County Transit.
The TMP’s recommendations will provide a variety of benefits for the community, including improved air quality, less roadway congestion, community health benefits, enhanced mobility, increased transportation options and economic opportunity. At completion, the full build-out of the TMP could include countywide microtransit service, six local bus routes, five mobility hub facilities, a Mt. Carmel Park-and-Ride facility, an Xpress bus service from Stockbridge to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and a Rapid Regional Connector to the airport and downtown Atlanta. In addition, the team identified two priority planning efforts to address in the near term: a microtransit services assessment and a branding and marketing strategy for HCT.
Henry County officials are already acting on VHB’s recommendations and have submitted grant applications to ARC and the ATL requesting federal funds to start a fixed-route local bus service.
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