The Atlanta BeltLine’s much anticipated Eastside Trail will have its grand opening on Monday at 10 a.m., at Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark. This is a really big deal. If you don’t know what the Atlanta BeltLine is, or you know but can’t remember the details, I’ve bolded some basic questions below… and used the BeltLine’s most recent press release to answer, in italics.
What is the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail, and why does it matter?
One of the most eagerly-awaited public spaces in Atlanta, the new 2.25-mile long section of the Atlanta BeltLine, running from Irwin St. to 10th St. and Monroe Dr., connects the neighborhoods of Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Poncey Highland and Virginia Highland. It contains a 14-foot wide concrete trail and 30 acres of landscaped greenspace, including spaces for both public art and naturalistically designed exercise station. This section of trail also connects Piedmont Park to Freedom Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park and Skatepark – and connects to the PATH Foundation trail running from Stone Mountain to downtown. The completion of the Eastside Trail combined with the first two trails on the Atlanta BeltLine – the West End Trail and the Northside Trail– brings the total of permanent trails to nearly six miles along and near the corridor.
This is the first phase of development for a corridor which will eventually contain all of the elements of the Atlanta BeltLine vision – pedestrian-friendly transit, a multi-use trail, greenspace and connectivity with surrounding developments and neighborhoods. This is also the first section of the old rail corridor to be developed. As part of the project, significant underground infrastructure was installed before work on the trail itself began. This work included a utility duct bank that will help carry power for lighting and transit as well as current and future utilities that use the corridor; retaining walls to maintain the width of the corridor for both transit and trails; the installation of a new bridge for the trail over Ralph McGill Blvd, and the remediation and rehabilitation of the historic rail bridge over Ponce de Leon Ave. Since 2006, there has been more than $775 million in new private development either completed or underway within a half mile of this section of the Atlanta BeltLine.
Remind me, why is the Atlanta BeltLine an important project?
The Atlanta BeltLine is the most comprehensive economic development effort ever undertaken in the City of Atlanta and among the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment and mobility projects currently underway in the United States. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will provide a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling downtown and connecting many neighborhoods directly to each other. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with other public and private organizations, including City of Atlanta departments. The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABLP) is a non-profit organization committed to raising funds from private and philanthropic sources to support the Atlanta BeltLine, working with the community and partners to raise general awareness and support, and serving as a catalyst to mobilize resources to address social concerns. For more information on the Atlanta BeltLine, please visit www.BeltLine.org.
Who does the Atlanta BeltLine impact? How exactly does it impact them?
More than 100,000 people live within half a mile of the Atlanta BeltLine, which connects 45 of the city’s neighborhoods. According to a Health Impact Assessment conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007, the Atlanta BeltLine’s 1,300 acres of parks, 33 miles of trails, $45 million in streetscape and intersection improvements, and the expansion of transit creates the opportunity for vulnerable populations to become physically active. The redevelopment will give 11,000 residents direct access for the first time to a park, and it will connect an additional 127,000 people to transit. As a result, it will improve access to employment opportunities, services, healthy foods, and recreational facilities.