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Stockbridge park-n-ride to open in spring

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Lights, cameras and action are about the only work left to do before one of metro Atlanta's newest "park-n-ride" facilities is open and fully operational.

Construction, which began about a year ago, was scheduled to be completed by the end of May, according to Kimberly Larson, Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.

"But we're looking to get it done within the next couple of months - by March," Larson said. "We're glad that we're able to get it done."

The park-n-ride, built by the department of transportation, will be operated through Georgia Regional Transportation Authority's (GRTA) Xpress commuter service.

Work is 90 percent complete on the commuter service facility, located at the northeast corner of Exit 228 on Interstate 75 along Ga. Highway 138 in Stockbridge.

The facility will include a free-standing lobby, bicycle racks, and a lighted, 356-space parking lot with security cameras.

"We can operate without the cameras, if we don't get them up," said GRTA Spokesman William Mecke. "We're still waiting for the lights to be installed."

Of the 23 routes in the metro Atlanta region, the Stockbridge Express would be the fifth one entirely south of Interstate 20. One Xpress route runs through Newnan, Ga. The others - at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, at the Clayton County Justice Center in Jonesboro, at Avalon Park in McDonough, and the soon-coming Xpress at Stockbridge - serve primarily Clayton and Henry counties.

Mecke said the park-n-ride in Stockbridge was born of demand in the area.

"This demand goes back to [2002] five or six years ago," he said. "People were asking for a stop in Stockbridge back then. We hope to get it open this spring - sometime in the next few months."

The first coach would leave at about 5:30 in the morning with four or five trips in the morning. And there will be four or five trips in the evening, the last arriving about 5:45 p.m. One-way trips are $3, and roundtrips -- $5. Initially, coaches will make at least one stop downtown.

"We expect that they'll fill-up pretty quickly," Mecke said. "It's amazing how far people will drive to get to a lot. You don't have to drive in it, somebody else is. And it's less expensive than driving, as a rule."

According to Mecke, the facility would be big enough to transport about 350 riders.

"It's a great addition," said Kay Pippin, president of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. "Obviously, we're going to have increased capacity on [Interstate] 75 in terms of lanes. We're going to have improvements at intersections along I-75."

"I consider it a grand luxury for Henry Countians," said Steve Cash, executive director of the Henry Council for Quality Growth.

"Any time you can aid and assist the citizens, the commuters of Henry County, it improves the quality of life," Cash said. "I've got to thank our legislators for their assistance in acquiring this great opportunity. We're looking forward to the opening of it."