MARIETTA — Expect the second phase of the Atlanta Braves’ transportation plan in mid-January, Mike Plant, the ballpark’s development president, told the Cobb Legislative Delegation during its annual meeting on Monday.
The marathon meeting was a chance for the county’s various governments and organizations to make requests and update lawmakers as they prepare for the 2017 legislative session next month.
Plant said the Braves plan to move into their offices on Friday. Their new stadium, SunTrust Park, gets turned over to them by the end of February with the first official game on April 14.
Lawmakers were interested in the ballpark’s transportation plans.
“The second phase of this plan is where you’ll see a lot more specifics as far as specific parking locations. Where you get in. Where you get out. We’re working with traffic management, with police,” Plant said.
While it’s been “incredibly complicated” at times, Plant said he was confident the plan would be ready well in advance of the first game.
“We’ll communicate all the information our fans need in order to effectively operate in a much more efficient way than we’ve been able to do for the last 20 years downtown,” he said.
Plant previously said the second phase of the transportation plan would be released this year. An Aug. 3 MDJ article reported him saying the second phase was expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2016 with the third phase to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2017.
State Rep. Sharon Cooper, R-east Cobb, said residents in her district were concerned about traffic. Cooper said while she wasn’t likely going to be attending ball games herself, now that the Braves have made Cobb County their home, she wanted them to be as successful as possible.
“So I look forward to hearing the next phases and seeing all we can do to make sure the people in my district can get home, can go about their lives, even if it doesn’t include going to a ball game,” she said.
Plant, a former Olympic speed skater and official, said the task reminds him of the Olympic games. The twin concerns of the Olympics are money and traffic. Failing to properly prepare likely means problems.
“But for us, with this team of experts we’ve put together in working with Cobb and the state, we’re not developing a plan dictated by emotion. It’s dictated by the facts and the data. One example of that led to moving our games back to 7:30 p.m.,” he said.
Metro Atlanta has a lot of traffic, and Plant said he’s never been one to promise he’s going to solve that issue.
“But I think if you look at how many games we play, when we play them, you know, a billion plus dollars of transportation improvement just in that area, the way we’re coordinating with CDOT, GDOT, the police management entities, I feel pretty good that our plan’s going to work,” he said.
Other speakers Monday included County Chairman-elect Mike Boyce; Commissioners Bob Ott, JoAnn Birrell and Bob Weatherford; Sheriff Neil Warren; Candice Saunders, CEO of WellStar Health System; James Whitfield, presiding judge of Cobb Juvenile Court; Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell, Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO David Connell; Glenn Page, general manager of Cobb-Marietta Water Authority; Cobb Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale, Marietta Superintendent Emily Lembeck, Kennesaw State University President Sam Olens, Chattahoochee Technical College President Ron Newcomb; Jim Wilgus, the county’s transportation director; and Malaika Rivers, executive director of the Cumberland Community Improvement District.
Of Cobb’s six senators, three were present: Michael Rhett, D-Marietta, Lindsey Tippins, R-west Cobb, and Judson Hill, R-east Cobb. State Sen. Hunter Hill, R-Smyrna, participated by phone.
Of Cobb’s 15 state representatives, nine attended various parts of the meeting: Cooper, Bert Reeves, R-Marietta; Ed Setzler, R-Acworth; John Carson, R-northeast Cobb; Sam Teasley, R-Marietta; Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs; Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna; Matt Dollar, R-east Cobb; and Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta.