The Atlanta Falcons are getting ready to hit the turf Friday night, for the first preseason kick off. Meanwhile, construction continues at the one-million square foot site of the new stadium.
If you haven't driven around downtown Atlanta in a while, you may be surprised to see how much work is already done on the new Atlanta stadium. Several big streets will still be closed again this football season, but there are a couple that will be opening back up.
Crews have been working around the clock on the city's latest skyline feature. Only about ten feet separate the Georgia Dome from the active construction site. "We're moving very quickly here," explains Georgia World Congress Center Director of Public Safety Chief John Bauer.
It may take a little more navigating for visitors to the Dome, or Georgia World Congress Center, but officials want you to continue routing around the work as easily as possible. "It's taking a lot of planning. We don't do anything without thinking about the consequences of the effects of what they're doing here and we've had pretty good luck keeping everything together for us," adds Chief Bauer.
Don't forget, Georgia Dome Drive is long gone and parts of Mitchell Street and Martin Luther King Junior Drive have closed to traffic. Starting Friday though, crews plan to have Mitchell Street back open, connecting the Red Deck Parking Lot with Northside Drive. "We're glad to get that back open and running. That's going to help us tremendously on getting people in and out as fast as possible," says Chief Bauer.
There are about 1,400 fewer parking spots, but a new deck is opening this fall. "We've got a new deck that will be open in the next couple weeks hopefully and that's going to help us to. That's another 600 spaces that's going to be adjacent to the dome and that's going to help us too," Bauer says.
The message is still to plan ahead, take MARTA and expect delays around the construction. "The parking lots are going to open up at 2:00pm this Friday, the gates will open up at 5:00pm and the game starts at 7:00pm, so be mindful of the fact that this is going to be happening during rush hour traffic," warns Chief Bauer.
The $1.5 billion dollar stadium is still on schedule to be open by March of 2017, in time for the first season of Atlanta's new Major League Soccer team.