Cobb County commissioners are expected to seek nearly $7.5 million in federal funding for a series of roadway, transit, and trail improvements when they meet next week.
Two of the grant requests will seek a combined $3.4 million from the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program. A component of 2021’s federal infrastructure bill, the initiative provides money to local governments to stitch back together areas divided by highway construction.
Eligible projects can include pedestrian bridges, caps over highways, parks and trails, and public transit, per U.S. transportation department documents.
The first of the two projects Cobb will seek support for is a series of proposed improvements along the East-West Connector between Austell Road and I-285.
The county’s had its eye on that stretch of road for some time, as it’s become snarled by the traffic and safety problems plaguing major metro Atlanta thoroughfares in the decades since its completion.
U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, sought $4.5 million last year to design new turn lanes and pedestrian infrastructure for the roadway (that request was not granted, according to Cobb Transportation Director Drew Raessler).
The county will now seek $1.44 million from the feds, with Cobb providing a local match of $360,000, to develop plans addressing congestion, safety issues, transit service, pedestrian mobility, and economic development. The county’s also planning to eventually build a bus transfer station near Wellstar Cobb Hospital.
The Board of Commissioners will vote on another such resolution in support of a $2 million request by the Cumberland Community Improvement District (CID) under the same federal program. That ask looks to secure funding for the Cumberland Sweep, a transit, trail and pathway network that aims to reconnect the district, and which has been pitched as Cumberland’s version of the Atlanta Beltline.
If successful, the CID would put up $1.76 million as a local match, with no county funds expended.
Meanwhile in south Cobb, the board will seek $4 million from the state to develop a trailhead along the Chattahoochee River at Discovery Boulevard and Mableton Parkway.
The trailhead would be the primary access point for a planned 2.4-mile trail along the river between Mableton Parkway and Veterans Memorial Parkway, Commissioner Monique Sheffield confirmed. The first mile of the trail will begin construction next year.
The segment in south Cobb is envisioned as a trial balloon for a much larger, more ambitious 100-mile network of trails (dubbed the Chattahoochee Riverlands) along the river from the Buford Dam to Newnan.
If approved, the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Program would put up $3 million for the construction of the trailhead, which Sheffield previously said could include a boat ramp, playground, picnic area and restrooms. The Trust for Public Land, the nonprofit behind the Riverlands project, would contribute $2 million, with the county responsible for the final $1 million of the $6 million total construction cost.
Noonday Creek Trail
In other business, the board will vote on a pair of agreements with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Town Center CID for engineering and design of a new bridge along the Noonday Creek Trail.
The proposed bridge would cross Cobb Parkway just west of Barrett Parkway. The board has already named RS&H, a Jacksonville-based consulting group, as the design firm for the project.
GDOT and the Atlanta Regional Commission are expected to put just shy of $2 million into the project. The Town Center CID, meanwhile, will cover the local match of $489,000.