A new CobbLinc transfer center for the south Cobb area and new transfer centers to replace the existing ones in Marietta and Cumberland could be among the transit-related projects requested by the county this week.
County Transportation Director Erica Parish is proposing a resolution to Cobb commissioners that would submit to the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority several projects related to the county’s CobbLinc bus service. Cobb is a member county of the authority, also known as the ATL, that was created under House Bill 930 signed last year by then-Gov. Nathan Deal.
The regional body is responsible for implementing transit projects across 13 metro counties and ensure plans connect efficiently across jurisdictions, and has a July 31 deadline for governments to submit projects for its inaugural Regional Transit Plan.
“In order to be eligible for future state and federal funds, projects must be in the ATL’s Regional Transit Plan, which is updated annually. Today, we do not have a transfer center in south Cobb,” Parish said, adding that the project is on the county’s 2016 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax list if funding comes through via state or federal sources or through some other means.
The SPLOST list estimates a cost of $8 million for the transfer center, in the vicinity of Austell Road and the East-West Connector.
The other projects do not yet have estimated costs, Parish added.
The existing Cumberland Transfer Center does not have park-and-ride capabilities, according to Parish. A new transfer center in the corridor, she adds, would provide parking, faster and more reliable access to the I-75/575 Northwest Corridor Express Lanes, and more convenient and safe transfers for local, limited stop and express routes.
Commissioner Bob Ott says the county is in discussions with the owners of Cumberland Mall to potentially locate a new transfer center there. The existing Cumberland Transfer Center is across Cumberland Boulevard from the mall.
“It doesn’t hurt to put it on the list to see if we could potentially get some grant dollars to help with the project,” Ott said.
A location on Roswell Road on the west side of Interstate 75 next to the express lanes is the target for a new Marietta Transfer Center, which would replace the existing one on South Marietta Parkway. The proposed center would therefore be able to more directly feed into the managed lanes.
Lastly, the county’s proposed resolution would seek funds for the expansion of its CobbLinc maintenance facility.
Chairman Mike Boyce says the ATL’s call for proposed projects presents a “dilemma” for the county, which is still working on its transit study and its Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
“The ATL has its deadline. I’ve said all along that unless our projects come out of the Comprehensive Transportation Plan review, then we shouldn’t be putting projects out there. But if I don’t put that out there, it seems like I’m preventing the commissioners from having an opportunity to weigh in on this, so I reluctantly agreed to put it out there,” Boyce said. “I would have rather this ATL had waited a year to do this, but it’s one of those things you just have to take a look at the bigger picture.”
Ott says the proposed new transfer centers and maintenance facility precede Boyce’s tenure on the commission and have “been on the books” and previously discussed by county officials, adding that last year’s opening of the express lanes increase the importance of components such as the proposed Marietta Transfer Center.
“The (Comprehensive Transportation Plan is) not finished, but the ATL is moving forward,” Ott said, “and the county risks the possibility of missing an opportunity to eventually get some grant money out to something in place that the county has previously identified as some significant improvements.”
The Cobb Board of Commissioners meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Cobb Government Building.