Road upgrades funded partially by the Cumberland Community Improvement District were instrumental in attracting the baseball team that will make the area its home in 2017, said Tad Leithead, chairman of the self-taxing district that has promised $10 million to the stadium project.
“People have said to me, ‘Are you doing transportation improvements because the Braves are coming?’” Leithead said. “I’ve said, ‘No. The Braves are coming because we’re doing transportation improvements.’”
The project will widen U.S. 41 from Paces Mill Road to Akers Mill Road from four lanes to six lanes and is part of a $53 million project targeting U.S. 41 that has been in the works for 15 years. A 12-foot-wide multi-use trail will also connect Cumberland’s office to the nearby national park land.
“This is like an
elected official’s baby-kissing moment, when you get to see all your hard work,” said Malaika Rivers, director of the CID, at a groundbreaking ceremony Friday.
The corridor sees tens of thousands of cars daily, Rivers said, and connects Cobb’s two largest economic engines, Cumberland and the Town Center area.
“It really is a matter of keeping up with growth in this community,” Rivers said.
Cobb Chairman Tim Lee pointed to the direction of the CID in getting the area ready for “the moment” that brought the Braves to the county.
“The reason we were able to take hold of this opportunity presented to us last July … it is because of the vision and partnership of not only the CID but those community leaders that come before us,” Lee said.
Mike Plant, executive vice president of the franchise, said the team didn’t take the “leap of faith” without considering transportation and the community is “going to be proud of us.”
“I think you’re going to see we’re not just going to put a fingerprint on this, we’re going to put a handprint on this community,” Plant said.
But it wouldn’t have happened without Sen. Johnny Isakson, Leithead said, who wrote the original legislation that formed the CID.
“I tell people, ‘Fifty years ago, the big idea in Marietta was the Big Chicken,’” Isakson said. “We’ve still got the Big Chicken, but we’ve also got big ideas,” Isakson said.