Lee said the bridge would be for pedestrians and for a shuttle that would pick up fans from around the area and bring them to the game.
“So, let’s say you go to Cumberland Mall and you’re having dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and you want to go to the game,” Lee said. “Instead of driving over there, you leave your car where it is, you get on the tram, and it goes over and drops you off right in front of the Braves stadium, and at the end of the day you go in reverse.”
The bridge, which Lee said is included in the projected $672 million cost to build the stadium, will be functional when the stadium opens in 2017.
Financing to be voted on Nov. 26
Lee has been mum on exactly how the county intends to finance the stadium, saying he plans to release the details before the Cobb Board of Commissioners votes on a “memorandum of understanding” with the Braves organization at its Nov. 26 meeting.
When it comes to density, the Cumberland area ranks third in office space in the state, Lee said. So it makes sense to build the bridge allowing people to walk or take the shuttle service from the Weather Channel, the Chamber of Commerce, the Cumberland Mall or the Galleria, keeping their cars parked at their place of work while they attend a Braves game at night.
“When you go to the Braves game, now you constantly have traffic where you have to stop people to let traffic through and stop traffic to let people through,” Lee said. “Because we’re designing this from the bottom up, we’re going to minimize significantly the conflict points between traffic and pedestrian walkability, which will make it even better.”
For the last decade, the commercial tax area known as the Cumberland Community Improvement District has been proactive in developing a system of roads that improves the traffic flow, Lee said.
“If you look at the Cumberland CID it has the best existing infrastructure of any other corridor like that in Atlanta for access and they’ve been investing for a decade now in trying to be ready for this type of event, for this type of development, so if you look at the long-term vision, their vision is to be built out as a viable work, play, live environment, so they’ve been making the investment for a decade,” he said.
Surrounding road improvement projects are already underway, with improvements targeting Windy Hill Road, Cobb Parkway and a new bridge over the Chattahoochee River which county spokesman Robert Quigley says total $72.6 million. Then there is Gov. Deal’s $951 million “reversible lanes” toll-road project along Interstates 75 and 575 through Cobb and Cherokee counties scheduled to open to traffic in 2018.
Lee said the county will be able to place its Cobb Community Transit buses on those new lanes and take commuters to and from Atlanta.
There is also the study the county expects to finish next spring that will reveal whether a bus rapid-transit system connecting Kennesaw State University with Midtown Atlanta is a viable option, Lee said.
“These investments are already in the pipeline to be able to continue to improve what they have, and prepare it for growth in the future because our goal is to have growth in the Cumberland area,” Lee said. “It’s something we’ve prepared for, it’s something we planned for, and we’re moving forward on projects before this (Braves announcement) even came about in anticipation of what we needed to do for the area.”
Being proactive is the Cobb County way, Lee said.
“I believe that we’ve been proactive for the last decade, we’ve been proactive for the last few years in addressing issues for the Windy Hill/75 corridor and with the help of the state we’ve been successful at that with some significant projects, and we’ll continue to do what we need to do to improve flow through and access and mobility while maintaining a high level of safety throughout the entire area, so it’s the Cobb way of doing things which is to be proactive instead of reactive.”
Road projects underway to help Cumberland area
* Windy Hill Road: The county is expanding Windy Hill Road from a five-lane to a six-lane road with three lanes in each direction and a raised, landscaped median from Cobb Parkway to the county’s diverging diamond project, and then from the diverging diamond project to Spectrum Circle. From Spectrum Circle to Powers Ferry Road, Cobb is adding an additional west-bound lane for a free-flow lane from Powers Ferry Road southbound toward I-75.
* Cost: $18.6 million
* Opening date: Early 2017
* Diverging diamond: The Windy Hill diverging diamond interchange redirects traffic entering and exiting an interstate on a path that eliminates the need for stopping at a traffic signal.
* Opening date: Early 2017
* Cost: $20 million
* Chattahoochee River Bridge: The state and CID are moving ahead with improvements to the part of Cobb Parkway that bridges the Chattahoochee River, changing it from four narrow lanes to six, with a raised median and sidewalks.
* Opening date: December 2014
* Cost: $12.6 million
* Cobb Parkway: The state is making improvements from Paces Mill to Akers Mill. This involves expanding Cobb Parkway from five lanes to six, three in each direction, with a raised median.
* Cost: $21.4 million
* Opening date: June 2016
* Reversible lanes: Toll-road project along Interstates 75 and 575 through Cobb and Cherokee counties
* Cost: $951 million
* Opening date: 2018