Braves in Cobb: Traffic, transit access to stadium near Cumberland Mall may be less a nightmare than some predict
By David Pendered
The notion offered by the Atlanta Braves that fans will find it easier to get to a ballgame in Cobb County than in downtown Atlanta ran into a buzz saw of criticism Monday.
“What a traffic nightmare!! I-75 and I-285 are already [troubled],” a writer identified as MayorDowning commented on ajc.com. “Now you’re adding to it.”
In reality, the Cobb site isn’t in the midst of a hopeless traffic nightmare. The planned ballpark is alongside Gov. Nathan Deal’s major highway initiative. It’s in the middle of a grid of big roads served by three interstate highways. And it’s about a mile from the transfer station of Cobb’s bus system and its linkage to MARTA.
Of course, in reality, no major destination in metro Atlanta is all that easy to get to on the region’s crowded highways. That’s one reason the governor has put his support for traffic relief behind a proposed system of managed lanes.
It just so happens that the first project in the new managed lane system is in the I-75 corridor alongside the planned Braves stadium.
If all goes as planned, the stretch of managed lanes serving the ballpark area should be open when the stadium opens, now planned for 2017. The entire $840 million managed lane system is to be complete in 2018, all the way along I-75 north from near I-285 through and beyond the I-575 interchange.
Another potential salve for game-day traffic congestion is that Cobb has the chance to include the planned stadium in the next update of its comprehensive transportation plan. Work on the update began earlier this year and is to be complete in 2014.
The Cumberland CID also is in a position to help improve access to the planned stadium. The CID has helped create a network of roadways and sidewalks throughout the district that enable mobility without the need to get on major roads.
Both the current ballpark and the planned ballpark in Cobb’s Cumberland business district offer their share of access problems.
The current site presents challenges to transit riders. The stadium is more than a mile by bus from MARTA’s Five Points Station, which is the major transfer station for ballpark travelers. The Georgia State station is an option that’s not used by many fans.
Vehicular traffic to the Ted is challenged by a site that is easy to see from afar, but difficult to reach. Most vehicles passed through a bottleneck near the state Capitol. Parking is time-consuming.
The future site is likely to be a challenge for transit riders. Cobb has no heavy rail transit lines, though bus bridges to MARTA transfer sites are operated by MARTA and Cobb Community Transit. The future stadium near existing CCT routes and is more than a mile from CCT’s transfer center at the rear of Cumberland Mall. Parking is in short supply.
Vehicular access to the future stadium could be an easier commute for most fans than the existing stadium, especially in light of a map the Braves released Monday: The fan base is centered in the northern suburbs.
The future site offers more potential entry and exit points than Turner Field. The site is now mostly wooded, and the Braves indicated in their press statement that the site will provide ample parking. The Braves intend to provide a “circulator” bus to help fans get around the site of the planned stadium, Braves vice president Derek Schiller was quoted by espn.com.
The site is shaped like a rectangle, with the long sides running east to west.
The eastern border is near I-75. The western border is near Cobb Parkway (the name U.S. 41/Northside Drive assumes in Cobb County).
The northern boundary is Windy Ridge Parkway. The southern boundary is Circle 75 Parkway (just outside I-285).
Potential access points include:
- From the east: From I-285, exit at New Northside Drive and access Windy Ridge Parkway from Powers Ferry Road or Interstate North Parkway;
- From the south: From I-285, exit at Cobb Parkway, by Cumberland Mall; or exit at Paces Ferry Road and use Spring Hill Parkway to reach Cobb Parkway;
- From Atlanta: Northside Drive or I-75, exiting as far north as Windy Hill Road and doubling back on U.S. 41 south to reach the ballfield.