Link to Cobb Galleria and SunTrust park area approved

A critical link to making the dream of freely walking over the traffic-congested area between a convention hub on one side and the Braves’ new SunTrust Park was approved Wednesday.

The board that runs Cobb Galleria Centre unanimously agreed to build and pay for a connection to the pedestrian overpass bridge already under construction that will eventually let folks walk over I-285 at I-75.

The Cobb-Marietta Coliseum & Exhibit Hall Authority estimates the 18-foot-wide walkway will cost $361,000.

Board members were sure to note that the money comes right from the Authority’s general fund as opposed to taxpayers’ pockets — though the general fund includes the county’s hotel/motel tax.

The Galleria, an office park with 144,000 square feet of exhibition space drew 348,000 visitors in 2015 and along with the accompanying Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre generated an economic impact of $142.5 million, according to the Authority’s annual report.

The Galleria, flanked by Cumberland Mall and Akers Mill Square, has plenty of neighboring hotels.

Developers have said folks will be heading both directions of the quarter-mile bridge.

For the patrons visiting the Galleria for a convention, or even employees getting lunch, it'll mean quick access to all the retail, restaurant and residential options at The Battery Atlanta development near the ballpark.

Authority board member Bob Voyles explained that their 300-foot portion of the walkway will start at the top of a parking garage on Galleria property.

Voyles said they will lose some parking spots because of their design, but the set-up will make for an easy “decommissioning” if they want to develop the area in the future.

The ability to adapt is important for an area of Cobb that is seeing phenomenal growth.

Cobb County chairman Mike Boyce, who is also on the Authority board, said the plan came from a meeting in January to help all bridge stakeholders, including the Braves, better communicate about the future of the area.

“All the dots were not being connected,” he said.

Boyce said the meeting helped folks on both side of I-285 understand all of the benefits the bridge could bring.

“They understand the economic and business potential of that bridge,” he said. “They realize the bridge can bring them more business, so they’re more on board now.”

Voyles said their walkway jutting out from the top of the parking garage won’t look different from the rest of the 900 feet leading to a parking garage on the other side that’ll let people right off into The Battery by Wahlburger’s.

He assured that their decision 44 days away from first pitch won’t interrupt the completion of the entire bridge.

“We won’t be the hold-up on any of that,” he said.