By TYLER MORSE
ATLANTA — There is one word that creates the same feeling for every person who lives in or around Atlanta: traffic.
Every Atlantan knows traffic is the worst part of the city and its surrounding counties, especially with all the changes and events going on within the city. The biggest challenge on traffic over the previous year has been the construction of SunTrust Park, the new Atlanta Braves stadium.
“We believe the new stadium location is easy to access while also giving our fans a first-rate game day experience in and around the ballpark and making it a 365-day-a-year destination,” said Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz in a statement from the Braves’s organization in 2013 when the new park was announced, which also explains the organization’s reason for moving locations.
The entire project of the relocation has been tedious and has seemed to cause more problems than it has fixed. With this relocation having the potential to make traffic worse for the Cobb County area, those in Cobb County and the Georgia Department of Transportation search for solutions to traffic.
Heavy traffic is something that is always in an Atlanta driver’s rear-view mirror, especially in Cobb County. With a major university, many school systems and major high schools, as well as being the new location for the Braves stadium, the future of Cobb County traffic does not look bright.
The Cobb County government and the Georgia Department of Transportation have come up with a conclusion to the pending problem. The two are working together to complete the bridges and the roads to make the incoming increase in traffic manageable and not overwhelming.
Their goal in working together is to avoid instances like the one portrayed in the image above of Interstate 75: one of the main transportation routes for Cobb County residents. This will only get worse with the addition of the Braves stadium.
Cobb County is in charge of the immediate construction of the roads to alleviate the traffic, said Analise Baker of the Georgia DOT.
“The road projects are all on Cobb County even though it’s on the interstate, which should be a DOT project,” said Baker.
So this shows that Cobb County is taking the responsibility ever since the county got the bid to build the new stadium. Their plans to alleviate traffic are all already in progress and their joint effort with the DOT aims to help everyday commuters as well as Braves fans.
This is the Cumberland Mall area where the street for the ballpark meets I-75. Throughout most of the day, this intersection is one of the more congested in Cobb County.
This is the main point of concern when it comes to easing traffic flow, as it is the interstate that most fans will take to get to the game.
The hope is that the projects underway from Cobb County will allow traffic to flow freely.
This is a view of the new stadium construction site from an adjacent hotel as construction wages on. The construction is on track to be finished by the start of the 2017 baseball season.
The traffic around the Cumberland Mall area with all the construction is almost unbearable, but Cobb County is doing its best to redirect traffic around all construction vehicles.
People’s daily commute through this heavily trafficked area has been slowed to crawl, but the county’s hope is that it will be much more enjoyable after the improvements to the surrounding roads.
Large, towering cranes can be seen in this image as the construction on the adjoining hotels and shops continues next to the new stadium.
What can also be seen in this image is the state of the road next to the stadium. The street is littered with construction cones and debris — mainly due to the construction of the stadium, parking garage and hotel, but there is already some construction underway on the streets as well to expand them.
Construction signs are everywhere you look around the Cumberland Mall area in Cobb County, but is slated to end soon.
The stadium is going to be completed in 2017, but according to Cobb County, there are plans to continue to work on the roads and the bridges to help traffic flow even after the completion of the stadium.
With the new stadium being right in the middle of the business district — District 7 as defined by Georgia DOT — the worry is that the stadium will make matters worse with the day-end traffic from these major businesses.
The after-work traffic rush would be right at the time people would be flooding in for an evening game, so the traffic would almost double. However, the bridge around I-75 and Windy Hill that Cobb County is currently building is aimed to give business commuters a second way around baseball traffic.
Pictured here is the new parking deck. Turner Field did not have one, and Cobb County DOT officials pushed for it to help with parking. Parking is one of the bigger concerns with the move to Cobb County in regards to traffic.
Downtown, there are at least five different lots to park in, and that is not taking into account the street parking and independent lots. The new location does not have that luxury, so parking is the top priority in regards to traffic flow.
Cobb County’s solution is this large parking structure.
This is another structure that is in the early construction stages, and it will be another parking structure right next to the stadium pictured in the background.
This structure will be taller than the previous structure and will be another help in solving the parking problem, which was the No. 1 reason to dislike Turner field according to fans.
According to ESPN, the average attendance at an Atlanta Braves game ranks 22nd in the MLB at about 23,000 attendees. This number could increase if fans consider the stadium to be in a more accessible, hassle-free location.
According to the Braves’s website, the new stadium’s capacity will be 41,000, which would rank it in the top 20 among U.S. stadiums, and will cost about $620 million. That’s 20 percent less than Turner Field.
Click here for a map from the Cobb County government website. It is a map of the current and future projects that Cobb County is tasked with to make traffic better around the new SunTrust Park.
The legend in the top right corner also shows more detail on the purpose of the project and what is planned for each individual one. All these projects are aimed at helping the flow of traffic and eliminating the hassle of parking when Braves fans come to see their hometown baseball team.
“First off, it was closer to their season ticket holders,” said interim director of transportation for the Cobb County DOT Jim Wilgus about why the team is relocating. “The stadium is located much closer and in the middle of their season ticket holders.
“The second reason is access,” he said. “The new location has 14 points of access, which will spread the incoming traffics across the system.”
“Parking areas are distributed in all directions from the stadium,” he said. “To help with pedestrian traffic, we are also constructing 12-foot-wide, multi-use trails in all directions from the stadium.”
Wilgus expects more retail store, restaurants and commercial properties will be added after the stadium opens, he said.
Wilgus and the Cobb County DOT have a plan for traffic flow for both commuters and fans alike.
All that is left is to see the plans unfold, and then it will be time for Atlantans to enjoy America’s pastime: baseball.