Braves new world of traffic fastball - CBS46 News


Braves new world of traffic fastball

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"If you build it, they will come." It's a line from one of the most loved baseball movies of all time, Field of Dreams.

But a field of nightmares may be what's going up in Cobb County.

They're building it and people will come. But how to get there is the billion-dollar question.

That's the price tag on traffic improvements already underway, and that may not be nearly enough.

The Atlanta Braves' new SunTrust Stadium will add an influx of game day traffic to a quarter-of-a-million-car-a-day intersection, often during rush hour.

How bad will the traffic be?

The Braves want families like The Pierces to get to the new ballpark. Bill Pierce, and wife Jackie, live in Acworth. They said they probably wont even go.

Unfortunately for the team, Cobb County isn't exactly famous for coming up with solutions to the traffic it already has, let alone what's coming.

The most obvious answer, MARTA, isn't even under consideration.

The route from Interstate 75 and Interstate 285 includes a wider bridge across the Chattahoochee River, along old U.S. Highway 41.

At Windy Hill Road, the I-75 exit will spread into diverging diamonds to handle more traffic.

Now, add the massive toll lane project, new reversible lanes from I-285 for 30 miles, past the Braves stadium and deep into Cherokee County.

There's no help there for Braves fans.

Cobb County transit buses blow past the Braves, but the stops are a long way from the stadium.

However, Tuesday night, Cobb County voted to buy six buses to shuttle people around the Cumberland area, including the new stadium.

The cost - $3 million.

Critics accused the county of creating the shuttle service specifically to shuttle people to the Braves' stadium. 

The Cumberland Circulator is a proposal for three new bus routes circling the Braves like a determined tornado. It has yet to be approved.

Tad Leithead is ahead of just about everybody in seeing the future of I-75 and I-285. He helped build the galleria and oversee the millions of dollars of road improvements now raining on the area.

"Good or bad, this country is more committed to cars more than any other place in the history of the planet because of the interstate system," said Leithead.

Even he won't use the "M" word, but rapid rail may be an inevitability.

"In the long run, we'll have transit into this area from other parts of city, region," said Leithead.

Conspiracy theorists -- and, yes, there are conspiracy theorists -- believe that's been the goal all along: a plot to bring Cobb County to it's knees, literally begging for MARTA  -- even if that took allowing the Braves to leave Atlanta. 

The subject did come up at a public meeting on transportation in Cobb County recently.

Brandon Beach, a Republican state senator, North Fulton County Chamber of Commerce president, and a member of the MARTA oversight committee said the big five counties of Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Clayton need to coordinate.

MARTA stations helped Beach land big corporate re-locations that wouldn't be in Atlanta otherwise. 

"Both State Farm and Mercedes Benz said both only go to places with transit. Cobb was ruled out and Gwinnett was ruled out. Weren't even in the running for Mercedes and State Farm," said Leithead. 

But somehow Cobb County did get the Braves -- and much, much more traffic.

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