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Cobb’s Plan for Braves Traffic: Everybody Cut Through Sandy Springs

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Blindsided North Fulton mayor is understandably outraged

It reads like an Onion piece, but Cobb County’s tactical plan for getting drivers to Atlanta Braves games at SunTrust Park isn’t satire.

According to current plans, Cobb’s advice for game-day commuters will boil down to this: "Hey, all you drivers in Chief Noc-A-Homa T-shirt on Interstate 285, please kindly exit the freeway and follow the fancy, flashing signs through the surface streets of Sandy Springs for a shortcut to the ballgame."

Unsurprisingly, Sandy Springs’ mayor is raging pissed off about these plans, which apparently blindsided him and other city leaders at a council meeting this week, according to a must-read Reporter Newspapers article full of jaw-dropping revelations and verbal jousting.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul — a proponent of MARTA expansions and other mobility options from the 21st Century — said Cobb leaders haven’t even done him the solid of returning his phone calls on the topic of managing traffic; instead, they dispatched a lightning rod (Jim Wilgus, Cobb’s interim transportation director) to the meeting with news that game-day traffic will be asked to exit the interstate before Cobb’s Cumberland and snake through Sandy Springs, according to the newspaper.

To help drivers clog Sandy Springs' roadways, Cobb wants to install big signs with "dynamic messages" that can be changed according to traffic patterns. Wilgus aimed to assuage the fears/furor of the mayor and council by ensuring them that sign-directed drivers won’t be sent through residential neighborhoods. (At least not intentionally, as one councilmember noted).

And it's okay, the Cobb official implied, because it's similar to the broader traffic plan for all points around the stadium.

One Sandy Springs official put a potential bargaining chip on the table that could push some game-day traffic back into Cobb: a long-proposed new I-285 interchange at Powers Ferry Road on the Cobb side of the ‘hooch. (Cobb leaders have reportedly not returned their calls about that initiative, either). Paul, the mayor, said for his city to even consider the flashy signs, that interchange needs to come back into play. (But that sounds like a years-long process, and first pitch is next spring).

On the bright side, this proposed glut of game-day drivers could enjoy a slow-motion showcase of Sandy Springs — eighty times year.