Introduction

The Atlanta, Georgia, region has had extensive planning and practical experience in the field of urban freight movement. Planning efforts to accommodate the Games of the XXVI Olympiad (1996 Summer Olympics) included the introduction and implementation of a temporary off-hour delivery (OHD) program for local businesses. This case study revisits that implementation, its results, and private-sector responses to its effects on current conditions. Existing conditions in the region provide a potential opportunity to reintroduce the program. Planning efforts that originate from the local and regional jurisdictions also are explored.

Initially a crossroads for early railroads, in the early days Atlanta was called the “Town of Terminus.” Since then, however, the region has become a center of trade and goods movement and evolved into a domestic and international logistics hub for the Southeastern United States. The demand for freight in this region relates in part to the local population’s needs for goods and services. Figure 9 illustrates the rapid growth in population for the Atlanta region from 1970–2012.

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Figure 9: Population Growth 1970-2012

Today, the region is defined in numerous ways, but the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) defines it in terms of the 18 county metropolitan planning areas (MPAs) and 10 county regional planning commissions (RPCs) that serve the highly urbanized portions of the region (see Figure 10).

Figure 2: ARC MPO Regions

Figure 10: ARC MPO Regions

The Atlanta region is served by a significant freight transportation system that includes complex Interstate and local road networks and extensive modal availability. The Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) is the world’s busiest airport. Home to hubs for both air cargo flights and passenger (with associated belly freight) flights, ATL serves as a major generator for time-sensitive freight.

Railroads have always had a significant presence in the Atlanta region, with significant facilities inside the urban area serving both local and through-freight rail traffic. Extensive transportation systems serve as attractors for distribution activities that may be independent of local manufacturing. The region is host to numerous significant distribution centers, promoting extensive truck trips.

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