Chairman rails against statement by Atlanta mayor that light rail will make move with Braves
by Jon Gillooly
November 14, 2013 01:06 AM | 7246 views | 19 19 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Lee
Tim Lee
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MARIETTA — Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who claims the Braves’ move to Cobb County means Cobb would need to have light-rail in place, is wrong, county chairman Tim Lee said.

Reed said in a press conference this week that “Because of the transportation issues, if Cobb goes forward with this, they’re going to have to have rail, which would be the first introduction of light rail.”

The MDJ asked Lee whether Reed’s statement was accurate.

“No, absolutely not,” Lee said. “We’re not going to use that, we’re going to use bus rapid transit, if we do, it will be BRT.”

The county’s $1.8 million “Northwest Corridor Alternatives Analysis” study led by Marietta-based Croy Engineering has recommended building a $1.1 billion bus system connecting Kennesaw State University with Midtown, Atlanta. The county is now paying Cary, N.C.-based Kimley-Horn and Associates $3 million for an environmental study of that proposed bus route, which Lee expects to be finished this spring. That study will determine whether the system is economically and environmentally feasible, Lee said.

“That’s what the (first study) is recommending,” Lee said of bus rapid transit. “That’s the most efficient, effective transportation mechanism that allows flexibility and delivers bodies where they need to be on time and on budget.”

Lee said he didn’t know why Reed would say that rail would be required to lure the Braves.

“I can’t comment to why he says what he says,” Lee said.

Yet, Reed knows the controversial history of light rail in Cobb from his days campaigning to pass the failed $8.5 billion tax increase for the 10-county metro region known as TSPLOST that voters soundly defeated in 2012.

When Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews put together the draft list of projects Cobb would get under the proposed TSPLOST, the largest earmark on the list was an $856.5 million line item for a Cumberland Mall to Midtown light rail line. But after receiving public backlash from residents who asked how a rail line that was mostly in Fulton County would help the majority of Cobb County, Mathews and Lee scaled back that earmark to $689 million for “enhanced premium transit service,” from Acworth to the MARTA Arts Center Station in Midtown, which Lee said would have been used for bus rapid transit. Despite scaling back that TSPLOST project voters in Cobb and the 10-county metro region firmly rejected the tax.

Ehrhart: no MARTA rail to Cobb State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) who introduced Lee to Braves executives at the Marietta Country Club in July, which kicked off the deal, said he understands why Mayor Reed is frustrated at losing the Braves.

“But the idea that we have to have some kind of light rail public transit system is, hey, even the current stadium doesn’t have it, and he’s had, what, 20 years to get one to it?” Ehrhart said.

Ehrhart said he doesn’t oppose a transit option in Cobb’s future.

“But if we do, let’s have it the conservative, Republican, Cobb County way and make it fare dependent. In other words, if you get on, whether it’s a BRT or some type of people train or whatever you actually pay what it’s worth, it’s not some $2 dollar government subsidized concept,” Ehrhart said.

If the cost of the trip is $10 or $15, that’s what people who ride it pay.

“That way employees can utilize it, people who want to see traffic come down can utilize it, all kinds of good reasons, but let’s don’t accept this 20-year-old far-left ‘public transit is the only way to move people’ paradigm,” he said. “Let’s do it differently. Let’s do it right. I’d love to connect the three Braves’ stadiums, some way, wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe Rome to Cobb to Gwinnett.”

Ehrhart said despite Atlanta officials’ desire to see a MARTA rail line extend into Cobb, it’s not going to happen. He explained why Atlanta has pushed for it for so long.

“I guess if you’re a part of a failed public-transit experiment it’s kind of nice to have company,” Ehrhart said. “I don’t think the Cobb County taxpayers want to be any part of that and I think they made that clear in the TSPLOST vote.”

Braves: ticket buyers are drivers Lee said the majority of Braves ticket buyers live in the Cobb County area.

“The new stadium is going to be located near most of the fan base anyway, so the travel for their fan base will be cut down significantly, plus you reduce the congestion of you have to go through Midtown, that 75/85 corridor right by Georgia Tech in order to get to the stadium, and then there’s no direct access to the stadium once you get off the highway, so we’re providing access to and from the stadium directly from the highway that does exist now, we’re closer to the fan base, which shortens the commute, and we make it easier to get in and out.”

Derek Schiller, executive vice president of sales and marketing for the Braves, said most ticket buyers are also drivers.

“We fully believe that access to the site will be greatly enhanced for our fans,” Schiller said. “That starts with roadways today. Most of our fans arrive via car and getting to this site via car from all different sorts of directions is easier with the amount of ingress points, egress points to and from that stadium site. You’re familiar with it. You have opportunities to have multiple exits off of 75 as well as even 285 and again there’s a number of surface streets.”

Comments
(19)
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Wadd
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November 21, 2013
“But if we do, let’s have it the conservative, Republican, Cobb County way and make it fare dependent. In other words, if you get on, whether it’s a BRT or some type of people train or whatever you actually pay what it’s worth, it’s not some $2 dollar government subsidized concept,”

What an imbecile. Vehicular driving is the MOST heavily subsidized transportation method around. Drivers certainly are not paying the true cost for gasoline, road maintenance, and most especially PARKING.
JesseBudlong
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November 20, 2013
This argument is so completely shortsighted.

A) There is no correlation between public transit routes and an increase in crime.

B) If are actually subsidizing transit fares, you HAVE to look at the extranalities such as higher real estate values, less congestion and smog, an increase in physical activity and preventing obesity. These are all costs that increase exponentially as time gone.

I cry every day I see my home city succumb to complete ineptitude at the hands of "Conservatism"

I'm an Urban Planner with a specialty in traffic infrastructure....this man got an award from Golden Corral and the NRA :-(
NotSmarta
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November 15, 2013
no marta in cobb county! Cobb doesn't need all that atlanta rif raf coming up to the county to cause trouble---let them stay in atlanta!
JesseBudlong
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November 20, 2013
Please back this claim up with concrete evidence.

Thank You

- The Logic Department
Joseph Pond
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November 15, 2013
If the majority of ticket buyers live in Cobb how does that bring new money to the county?
LOLohboy
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November 14, 2013
This is the most precious thing I've read in a long time. Cobb says NO vehemently to the very idea of light rail... then suggests a $15 BUS RIDE.
HatinCCCobbRepWay
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November 15, 2013
the conservative, Republican, Cobb County way! Hateful, spiteful, idiots!
cobbchick
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November 14, 2013
Visit any of the courtrooms in Cobb county traffic court and watch the number of defendants in trouble for lack of driver's licenses. It's amazing that people believe that the lack of public transportation will keep criminals away ~ they are already here and driving with no insurance and no license getting in accidents they can't pay for.

How about today's shut down on I-75 didn't bother anyone?? Imagine you could have taken the metro home instead of sitting on the road the entire evening.
Ha-Ha
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November 14, 2013
I love watching blood pressures rise across Cobb County any time anyone mentions extending MARTA/light rail your way. I gaze upon the Braves' owners Liberty Media HQ on a daily basis here in Denver, where they are continuing to expand a great interconnected bus/light-rail system - one I'm sure many of the local Liberty employees utilize regularly, since there is a stop right at the office park. And surprisingly, crime rates didn't go up here in the 'burbs after they built it. Too bad Liberty employees in Georgia won't be able to enjoy the same service.
KKMarietta
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November 14, 2013
Exactly why is everything that our esteemed political figures in Georgia don't like is a far left-wing initiative? Then, when something works it came from their mouths. We have got to get over this fear mongering and finger pointing and consider what is viable and positive. People on all sides have good ideas and our politicians should start listening to everyone not only those who agree with them.
Rick Z
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November 14, 2013
I don't think Mayor Reed is wrong to suggest a light rail line could be a useful part of the transportation corridor to the new stadium. But if Atlanta wants a line that mainly benefits the city, let the city pay the bulk of the cost this time, unlike the failed TSPLOST plan when it would have been paid by Cobb County's share of the revenues.
Just Wait
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November 14, 2013
Just another excuse for Atlanta to try and force MARTA and it's associated crime into Cobb County.
Just Asking
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November 14, 2013
How does public transportation bring crime? I'm honestly asking here, not being rude. I lived in Washington DC and the public transit from my home in Alexandria to my job which alternated between Falls Church (another DC suburb in VA) and the District was AMAZING. It was so relaxing every day to utilize the metro system. I lived in a very nice area of Alexandria and I always felt safe as a young student there. I didn't notice any crime which came from it or anything. I miss it tremendously in Atlanta.
translating ovirigu
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November 15, 2013
@JustWait==and to force you into this century. I bet you still use the one rotary dial phone hanging with a cord in the kitchen that gets a busy signal when you are on it and doesn't even get messaging.
Linda in Acworth
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November 15, 2013
Wait until the Braves Owners do a Traffic study,

without Rapid Transit, This won't fly. Has Cobb waited too long for progress????
anonymous
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November 14, 2013
I for one am happy that the Braves are coming to Cobb however, the citizens of Cobb better wake up! As a citizen and employee of Cobb I find the comments that Tim Lee would make about the ability of the police department to handle what is coming incredibly STUPID and offensive. Yes folks there is a difference between stupid and ignorant and he can't say he hasn't been given the information and did not know. I believe he said, "numbers aren't everything", in response to the FOP President Mull saying that the police department does not have the resources to handle what is coming. WAKE UP!! Numbers are not everything but they should be considered a clue! In the last 3 years the police department has lost over 150 officers. We can't hire quickly enough to keep up with the attrition rate and good applicants are going elsewhere that are in a more competitive market. It's not all about money but that is a part of it. The citizens would be shocked to know how often the area that they live in has no assigned officer because the staff is so low that the territorial coverage has to be shifted. It is not every day that there are several open beats throughout the 5 precincts but I hope they are full or there is an officer working your beat the day you need them. This new stadium will create the need for additional officers, a lot of them. If we already are taking on water faster than we can bail then how is that going to work?? It is amazing that the size of the department keeps shrinking and yet the county continues to grow. I can only hope things will change in the near future for the others because my time is done. Good luck to you all. Change does need to happen. Starting at the commissioners level.
SUPpPpPPPppP
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November 14, 2013
Why do people in East and West Cobb think they are too good for using public transit when people all over the NE commute via train from $million dollar homes into Manhattan to their $million dollar jobs?

Are we that delusional to think our country McMansion on a fifth acre and our leased "luxury" car with the heated leather seats, heated mirrors, and all the latest (yet already obsolete) electronic gadgetry make us all that where we are too good to use public transit?

We think we are all rich enough to pay more for daily transportation than they pay in the NE where it's supposedly more expensive to live?

We all pay for cars and maintenance and gasoline and insurance and wrecks and injuries and fatalities just because we are scared somebody might use a train to come break into our car, as if criminals did not have, via theft or other means, cars to go places in?

Let's face it: Cars are just another thing that are subject to the crime around here. Crime isn't from public transit. Crime is not from cars either (though plenty of injuries and fatalities and financial disasters ARE from cars).

Crime stems from the selfish in our state capitol working hard to keep people here down so Georgia is "good for business" by providing plenty of obedient labor at cheap prices
anonymous
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November 14, 2013
Let Kasim Reed talk trash, that's all he knows how to do. He's all mouth, little man's complex. Atlanta never did anything for the Braves. It was all, take, take, using the Braves for a money cow, now it's over! I can't blame the Braves for leaving. By the way, Braves is owned by a multi-multi Billion $$ Liberty Media of Denver and the Braves said in the beginning this is not going to be all on tax payers. Look up Liberty Media for yourself see what all they own. Cobb just scored a giant home run--landed a C-5B size golden egg.
anonymous
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November 14, 2013
You said it good, but Cobb WON THE WORLD SERIES OF PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT. The biggest coop that will come along in years and years for a county. They landed the biggest golden egg there ever will be probably for a county to land. There are so many 'old' people in Cobb that just cannot comprehend that we are in a new age, a new era, and we can't just stay stuck in old settled in ways. Bring it on, Braves! Bring it on! Myself, I am going to try to think of creative ways I can take advantage of this opportunity and this multi-billion dollar money-making machine that is coming our way.
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