Oct 12, 2021 - News
$44 million project seeks to make Cumberland bike friendly
Cumberland Community Improvement District's proposed multi-modal path.
A rendering showing the proposed multimodal path that would include bike and pedestrian lanes as well as room for an autonomous bus. Photo courtesty of Cumberland Community Improvement District

A new, multimillion dollar project would make it easier to walk, bike or ride a self-driving bus from Cumberland Mall to watch the Atlanta Braves play at Truist Park.

Details: The Cumberland Community Improvement District has unveiled a proposed 3-mile multimodal path that will include dedicated pedestrian and bike lanes as well as an autonomous shuttle system alongside traditional travel lanes.

Why it matters: The community improvement district has a history of investing in projects that improve car-based travel in the area, making it easy for commuters and visitors to access office parks and popular venues like the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center and Cumberland Mall.

  • However, now that it’s home to 29,000 residents, the Braves and mixed-use development The Battery Atlanta, “people are looking for other modes of transportation” to get around within the district, said CID executive director Kim Menefee.

What's happening: The Cumberland Sweep project would improve connectivity to the area’s major attractions, including the mall, Battery Atlanta, Truist Park, Cobb Galleria Center and the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, the CID said.

Quick fact: Community improvement districts are made up of businesses that tax themselves to pay for public infrastructure projects.

A map provided to Axios by the CID shows the Cumberland Sweep would be constructed in five segments and loop around the area along Windy Ridge Parkway, Galleria Drive, Akers Mill Road, Cumberland Boulevard and Interstate North Parkway.

Map of the proposed 3-mile multi-modal path.
A map showing the segments of Cumberland Sweep, a proposed 3-mile path featuring bike and pedestrian lanes around Truist Park and The Battery Atlanta. Photo courtesy of Cumberland Community Improvement District

Flashback: The Atlanta Braves sent shock waves around the state when in 2013 the team announced it would move from Turner Field — easily accessible by the city’s MARTA system — to the Cumberland area of Cobb County, which has shunned mass transit options.

  • The subsequent redevelopment transformed the Cumberland area to a destination point for thousands of people traveling from all across metro Atlanta to catch a Braves game.

The big picture: Cumberland CID would not be the first entity to test out a driverless shuttle. Peachtree Corners has four autonomous shuttles that run on Technology Parkway between Ga. 141 and Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cumberland’s new path would cost about $44 million, Menefee said.

  • The CID applied for and received $6.4 million in federal funding to help pay for preliminary engineering and construction on the first segment.
  • The goal would be to have the multimodal path built in the next 10 years, Menefee said.

Menefee said the CID also wants to partner with the city of Smyrna and Atlanta Braves to construct a pedestrian bridge over Cobb Parkway, connecting people to The Battery and the stadium from the Smyrna side of the highway.

What's next: While there’s quite a way to go to get the necessary funding to install the 3-mile loop, Menefee said CID partners are supportive of the project.

  • She also said the CID will keep an eye on technology to ensure the autonomous bus shuttle component will be efficient and cost effective over time.
  • “There’s been tremendous excitement and energy around this project,” Menefee said.

Our thought bubble: This seems like a cool project, but we should also think about projects that would get people to and from the Cumberland area without relying on cars.

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