Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee said the proposed bridge over Interstate 285, which would link SunTrust Park with the Galleria Centre, is not on schedule to be completed in time for the Braves first season in SunTrust Park and he will recommend “that we postpone the implementation of this project.”
Lee made the announcement through an emailed newsletter Wednesday morning.
The announcement comes one week after The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that the Georgia Department of Transportation did not provide any funding for the bridge, or the $3.5 million estimated cost to reinforce the Galleria’s parking deck to which the bridge would attach.
That decision left funding for the project in question.
And over the weekend, the Marietta newspaper ran a gossip column that quoted an unnamed member of the Galleria Authority saying that Lee did not have enough votes from that board to get approval for the bridge.
“Make no mistake, I am not rethinking the idea of the bridge,” Lee said in the newsletter. “I continue to believe that the bridge would be a major asset to Cobb County.”
Lee said in the newsletter that funding for the bridge has been identified “through the Cobb County SPLOST program and our annual Federal Transit Administration funding.”
The AJC has repeatedly tried to have questions answered about how the bridge would be funded — as late as Tuesday, when a reporter tried to ask Lee several questions about the bridge after a commission meeting. He refused an answer any, and then walked away from the reporter.
The AJC then asked Lee’s assistant for an interview, and was told that the chairman wouldn’t be available the rest of the week.
It is unclear how SPLOST funding could be used to fund the bridge, since SPLOST projects legally have to be identified when the tax levy is on the ballot. The bridge was not identified as a project for the 2016 SPLOST, approved by voters last fall.
FTA funding would seem to be allowable, since the county wants the bridge to carry a people-moving circulator which would be considered transit.
Lee repeated in the newsletter that the cost estimate for the bridge is $9 million — a figure the county has used for nearly two years. The AJC has reported previously that at least two engineers not involved with the project have cast doubt that the bridge could built for that amount.
“Regrettably, we are no longer on schedule to complete the bridge construction by opening season at SunTrust Park,” Lee wrote. “I plan to make a motion that we postpone the implementation of this project” to the county commission.