The latest misstep in the comedy of errors that is the Braves’ 2017 move to Cobb County is the proposed bridge spanning 11 lanes of I-285 which would connect the new Suntrust Park to the parking lot of the Galleria shopping center. On Tuesday, the commissioners approved a measure authorizing a design firm to begin planning out the bridge, an endeavor which should cost the county around $800,000.
The county claims that the proposed bridge will cost between $6 and $9 million. It would provide service to both pedestrians and ‘circulator vehicles’, (read: buses). It would come from taxpayer funds that are as of yet unaccounted for. It would conjoin with the Cobb Galleria, which has been leery of allowing thousands of Braves fans to fill its parking lots 80 or so times a year. Beyond all that though, at under $10 million, it would be an absolute steal.
When MARTA constructed its own pedestrian bridge over GA 400 last summer, linking one of the line’s busiest stations to a wide swath of Buckhead, both MARTA staff and Buckhead CID leaders were thrilled. The cost of that bridge, which was approximately the same length as the proposed Braves’ version, was a hefty $32 million. The GA 400 bridge, which sees roughly 3,000 travelers per day make their way across, is for pedestrian use only. Now I’m certainly no engineer, but one would think that the added stress from ‘circulator vehicles’ might increase the engineering and materials cost on a bridge that spans a wildly trafficked highway, (especially at around 6:00 on mid-summer week nights).
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee has repeatedly asserted that a bridge over I-285 would not require any additional taxpayer funding. After all, Cobb taxpayers are already on the hook for some $400 million that they had no say in agreeing to, so it wouldn’t be fair to add another ‘$6-$9 million’ would it?
According to the AJC, “A Request for Proposal for bridge design says a variety of funding is anticipated to pay for bridge construction, including federal transit funds, special purpose sales tax receipts, ‘and/or other local funding’.” Something tells me that when the estimates for the bridge suddenly shoot up from $9 million to $40 million, the ‘other local funding’ will be the part of that quote that takes the hit.