Board approves study on Braves shuttle, expands CID
by Rachel Gray
June 02, 2014 12:05 AM | 1408 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print

MARIETTA — The Board of Commissioners invested in many of Cobb’s recreation assets recently, including the development of a shuttle service for the Cumberland area.

In November, the Cobb Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding to finance the construction of a $672 million, 41,500-seat stadium set to open in 2017.

According to a report presented by Cobb Department of Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo, additional transportation infrastructure and services are critical for managing traffic congestion and facilitating economic development around the new stadium.

The county previously issued a request for proposals for the shuttle study with two firms responding: URS Corporation and Atlanta-based Metro Planning and Engineering. County Chairman Tim Lee said URS Corporation was selected based on the recommendation by DiMassimo.

In a 5-0 vote, the Board of Commissioners approved a contract with San Francisco-based URS Corporation to do a study on implementing a shuttle service. The cost of study is not to exceed $445,010.

Eighty percent of the total project cost will be covered by federal transit grants, according to DiMassimo’s report. A required 20 percent local match, or $89,002, will come from the 2011 SPLOST Transportation Improvements Program Fund.

Lee said the purpose of the yearlong study is to pinpoint a “reasonable schedule and a reasonable route.”

Even though the stadium is not set to open for three years, Lee said funding the study is urgent so other plans to design parking locations near the stadium and transportation improvement measures can get underway.

Although the shuttle idea is in the concept stage, Lee said he believed the service would be available year-round with expanded services on game days. The shuttle would move Braves fans to and from parking areas, transit stops and nearby shops.

“My vision for success is a consistent, convenient, safe shuttle service for the area that Cobb residents and visitors can depend on,” Lee said.

Lee said he did not know if there would be a fee charged for riding the shuttle, but he anticipates the cost would be covered by sponsorships and advertising on the shuttles.

The cost could also be offset by the 3 percent countywide car rental tax or fees placed on top of the existing hotel-motel tax approved by the commissioners in November to fund the stadium, Lee said.

The funding of a shuttle service was just one example of the county’s effort to mingle business areas with recreational uses, such as the baseball stadium and multi-use trail systems.

The shuttle would operate within the 5.5-square-mile Cumberland Community Improvement District, a self-taxing district formed in 1988.

The Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 to expand the boundaries of the CID for the first time since 2007, tripling the district’s green space by expanding into federal parkland.

About 572 acres of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area will lie within the district, jumping from the 264 acres of green space the CID includes now. The proposed expansion would increase the percentage of green space in the CID from 7.4 percent to 20.3 percent. The land area of the CID will also expand from 5.6 square miles to 6.5 square miles.

About 25 miles of multi-use trails weave around Cumberland’s office towers.

The CID can only spend money within its boundaries, so in order to help the National Park Service with an investment in the adjacent trail system, the land must be part of the CID, said CID board member Mason Zimmerman.

The National Parks Service will not be subject to the additional property tax the CID levies to fund its projects.

The dedication to Cobb’s recreation trail system continued with another 5-0 vote by the commissioners to resurface the Silver Comet Trail, an approved component of the 2011 SPLOST Transportation Improvements Program.

Cobb’s portion of the Silver Comet Trail runs west for 12.8 miles, from Smyrna near South Cobb Drive through Powder Springs past Florence Road.

Two finalized bids were submitted to the county that not only included the asphalt resurfacing, but also patching, leveling, shoulder restoration and pavement markings. The Marietta-based C. W. Matthews Contracting Company, Inc. placed the lowest bid at $1.6 million, according to a report DiMassimo gave to the commissioners .The work is expected to be completed by Aug. 29.

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