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Stadium gets GRTA thumbs up

LAWRENCEVILLE - Staffers from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority on Friday gave a nod to Gwinnett's stadium project.

In a five-page report, expected to be included in the Atlanta Regional Commission's Development of Regional Impact study next week, staffers recommended road connection projects, sidewalks and transit options for the stadium, where the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves are expected to play beginning in April 2009.

"We've got to make sure we put a traffic management plan in place to get the cars in quickly" and keep people safe within the complex, said Preston Williams, leading the project for the Gwinnett Convention and Visitors Bureau.

On the GRTA report, he said, "I don't see any real issues here. It's all doable. ... We'll do what we've got to do to get all the conditions satisfied."

Approval of the Buford Drive stadium, which will be paired with retail development, was based on planned widenings to Ga. Highway 20 and widenings, barriers and traffic management systems on Interstate 85. Staffers recommended lengthening turn lanes along Tech Center Parkway near the stadium's intersection, a traffic signal at its entrance along Buford Drive and widening the road from four to six lanes from Old Peachtree Road to I-85.

Other conditions include connectivity among the various driveways for the project, reserving 1,000 parking spaces for transit park-and-ride commuters, providing bike racks and adding pedestrian walkways between shops and restaurants and the stadium as well as along Ga. 20 and Tech Center Parkway.

The GRTA decision will be included in the Atlanta Regional Commission's report, expected to be complete next week.