Express lane construction is underway at the I285 and I75 interchange. View showing the I285 (running top left to bottom right) and I75 interchange near the Sun Trust Park construction site. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Cobb officials: Road project not for Braves

A $30 million roadway project in Cobb County has come under fire as yet another expense associated with the new Braves stadium, but officials say voters approved it years ago as part of the 2011 SPLOST.

Once completed, the Windy Hill Road/Terrell Mill Road connector will be a four-lane roadway intended to alleviate traffic from the reversible express lanes under construction along the Northwest corridor of I-75 and I-575. The connector was one of the projects on a list of undertakings to be funded wholly or partially by a special 1 percent sales tax, or SPLOST.

“This gives those commuters that are taking that (Terrell Mill) exit a way to get directly into the Cumberland area, mainly for jobs,” said Cobb Transportation Director Jim Wilgus.

The connector’s design was funded by the 2011 SPLOST, and the 2016 SPLOST includes $20 million for construction, with another $10 million from the state, according to Wilgus. The deal that brought the Braves to Cobb County was struck in the fall of 2013.

Last week, WSB TV spoke with Sean Breslin of Turnberry Lane Townhomes, who said he was excited about Braves coming to Cobb until he found out his home might be torn down to make way for the connector. Breslin appeared to blame the county for displacing residents to benefit the team.

“This is a very shocking moment for us and we don’t want to see our homes bulldozed,” Breslin said.

Wilgus said about 150 people attended an public information session about the project last week. He estimated the county would begin pursuing right-of-way next summer, with construction likely beginning in 2019 and taking two years to complete.

Commissioner Bob Ott also pushed back against the perception that the project was for SunTrust Park.

“This is absolutely not a Braves project,” said Ott. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes with major road projects there are some folks that the county has to buy out. They’re not kicked out.”

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