First phase of planned $44-million pathway would link Braves stadium, Cobb mall

A bike and pedestrian pathway will connect Truist Park, The Battery Atlanta, Cumberland Mall and other attractions in coming years and become Cobb County’s version of the Atlanta Beltline, local officials say.

The Cumberland Community Improvement District unveiled ambitious plans Thursday for a $44 million multimodal trail dubbed the Cumberland Sweep.

“We envision the path being the future heartbeat of the community,” said Kim Menefee, Cumberland CID’s executive director. “A place where people will gather, discover and explore the best of what Cumberland has to offer.”

The multimodal path will have separate lanes for walking and cycling, and CID leaders hope it will one day feature an autonomous tram that can operate on its own.

The CID is a special tax district for commercial property owners who agree to tax themselves for public infrastructure and other projects in the thriving Cobb Parkway corridor near the intersection of I-75 and I-285.

Cumberland, located in southeast Cobb, is a commercial hub in one of the state’s largest employment centers. The commerce center features more than 3,400 businesses that have a $20 billion economic impact on the area each year, according to district officials.

Cumberland Mall, the Cobb Galleria Centre, The Battery Atlanta and Truist Park, the Atlanta Braves’ $1.3-billion stadium, are some of the large businesses that serve as the district’s anchor.

“I’m ecstatic about this project and the mission behind this project,” said District 2 County Commissioner Jerica Richardson, who represents the area. “I think it’s going to be another wonderful outlet for residents and visitors to really embrace that play component of live work, play.”

The entire 3-mile loop of the Cumberland Sweep, as planned, would encircle the intersection of I-75 and I-285, a CID map indicates. That phase will cost about $25 million, according to CID spokesman Adam Ross. It will be built in sections.

The district received a $6.4 million federal grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to fund the first segment of the 14-foot wide multimodal path, which will be built along Galleria Drive. The half-mile long path would connect a pedestrian crosswalk over I-285 and Akers Mill Road.

The CID’s board of directors, working with Cobb County officials, are expected to select a design team by the end of the year. Then the district will work with Cobb County’s transportation department to acquire right-of-way along Galleria Drive.

Construction for that portion of the path is slated to begin in October 2024 and should be completed in 2027, Ross said.

The CID is still applying for state and federal grants to bankroll the other 2.5 miles of the path, which will run along Akers Mill Road, Interstate North Parkway, Windy Ridge Parkway and Heritage Court. One part of the multimodal path will also connect to the pedestrian bridge over I-285 near The Battery.

The construction timeline for those portions of the project depend on when officials secure funding.

“I think right of way always comes with a bag of challenges,” Richardson said. “But in general, the CID has always been very proactive in looking at all of the different funding sources.”

The CID eventually plans to extend Cumberland Sweep about a mile from Akers Mill Road to connect to a 600,000 square-foot area behind Cumberland Mall that’s slated for redevelopment.

The district also intends to build an elevated pedestrian bridge that runs across Cobb Parkway from Galleria Drive to Cumberland Mall. They also will study ridesharing options to incorporate into the path as well as technology for the self-service shuttle.

The final price tag for the completed four-mile system is expected to be just shy of $44.4 million.

Smyrna’s city council recently approved plans for the Emerson Center, a mixed-used development poised to bring a Hilton five-story apartment complex with 300 units to Spring Road.

Ross said the Emerson Center is one of three mixed-use developments on the horizon that might link to the Cumberland Sweep’s pedestrian bridges and bolster connectivity.

“It makes this a desirable place to be,” Cumberland CID board chairman John Shern said. “It’s a good place to live, it’s a good place to work, it’s a good place to conduct a business. So all of those things get enhanced when we can bring people together and move them around efficiently.”