The Bridge in Cobb County
Construction continues on the $11.4 million project to widen the Windy Ridge Parkway Bridge over Interstate 75 that will allow fans to walk to SunTrust Park and the Battery Atlanta, the mixed-use development next to the Atlanta Braves' future home.
The 39-foot expansion on the north side of the bridge is aimed at creating space for a landscaped pedestrian plaza or thoroughfare leading to the baseball stadium. The first game set at the ballpark is the Braves' exhibition against the New York Yankees on March 31, 2017, which will serve as the final outing of Spring Training. The first regular season home game of the Braves has been set for April 14th against the San Diego Padres.
"We're absolutely going to be ready for April 14th," said Jim Wilgus, the Cobb County's Transportation Director. "We may be ready for the March 31st game, since the bridge is in pretty good shape," he also said.
The bridge's expansion is being funded, mostly by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has committed up to $9 million for the project, with the county responsible for the remaining $2.4 million. The project will be a "significant pedestrian connection" between SunTrust Park and its surrounding development, and an area expected to provide hundreds of parking spaces on Braves game days, said Tad Leithead, Chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District, in which the bridge is located.
Leithead has said that the bridge will bring pedestrians from areas on the east side of I-75 such as the Interstate North office development, which includes the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, the Marriott Hotel, the Weather Channel and other facilities. He said the Braves Organization has made arrangements with a number of those office buildings to use their parking lots for access to the Battery and specifically to Braves games.
"If you look at it on a map, except for Braves on-site parking at the Battery, it's by far the closest parking to the new SunTrust Park. It's anticipated that as many 2,500 parking spaces will be used during games, and then people will walk from their cars during the games," Leithead said. "I think once people's driving patterns begin to be established, there will be a lot of parking on the east side, not just for Braves games, but year-round for access to The Battery."
Wilgus also sees the bridge as a boon to pedestrians when the Major League team is traveling for away game . "It could be people that are walking to The Battery, someone, for instance, working at the Weather Channel and wants to go try out some of the new restaurants, or any of the other office space over there. It could also be residents in that area over there that are going over for their job at Comcast," Wilgus said, adding that the bridge will also give the area residents a way to access the county's trail system. "It's going to be something that's going to be used 365 days a year," he said.