Who will pay for upgrades?

The Atlanta Braves have announced they are moving to Cobb County for the 2017 season. Great news, or is it?

Five major questions have not been asked that need answers. The answers will define the quality of life for Cobb’s residents after 2017. The questions are all infrastructure-related:

1. It is startling that Gov. Nathan Deal was never consulted on this move until the very last day. State transportation planners will likely be asked to fund improvements around the site, and the governor responded: “I have no indication that I’ll be putting any infrastructure funds in my budget. I do not see this as something that the taxpayers of this state will be asked to pay for.” The state DOT already has plans, in a public-private agreement, to build new lanes along I-75 that actually bypass Cobb County. Where will the money for the infrastructure come from?

2. It has been reported that Cobb County will pay 45 percent of the proposed $672 million stadium complex cost. Where will the money for infrastructure come from?

3. Mayor Kasim Reed stated: “Because of the transportation issues, Cobb is going to have to have rail, which would be the first introduction of light rail.” Cobb Chairman Tim Lee responded: “We’re going to use bus rapid transit; it will be BRT.” The BRT proposal would cost approximately $1.1 billion, as the recent Northwest Corridor Alternatives Study recommends. Where will the $1.1 billion come from to finance this program?

4. Marietta voters recently approved a $68 million project to improve the Franklin Road corridor. The city plans to demolish this area and look to the private sector for redevelopment. With the Braves coming, this site will develop as mixed use, including hotels, motels and commercial development. Has anyone determined how the new traffic will impact Cobb Parkway (U.S. 41) and I-75 between Ga. 120 and Windy Hill Road? Where will the money for infrastructure come from?

5. Once the new Braves stadium is built and the infrastructure is completed, what will be the impact on Cobb’s budget for additional public safety personnel to protect the new region, and how will the maintenance of the massive new infrastructure affect Cobb residents’ property taxes?

Do we now know why the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta Regional Commission, Cumberland Improvement District and Tim Lee were such strong supporters of rail from Atlanta to Cumberland Mall and Town Center in the 2012 T-SPLOST proposal? That proposal failed in Cobb County by a 61- to 39-percent vote.

How will this proposal be viewed when these questions are answered?

Bill Byrne is former chairman of the Cobb County Commission.

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Bill Byrne is former chairman of the Cobb County Commission.

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