Rails in the Corridor

Old railroad tracks sit in the Atlanta BeltLine corridor before construction commences.
Photo Credit: Christopher Martin

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The Atlanta BeltLine

Where Atlanta Comes Together. Learn more

 
 
FAQs

You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers!

There are many components to the Atlanta BeltLine, and as such, there are many questions. We answer some of the most common questions here, but be sure to visit the Atlanta BeltLine Overview page for more details.

What parts of the Atlanta BeltLine are open now?

Several parks and trails are now open to the public. Visit the parks and trails pages to see all there is to explore!

What’s going to be built next? 

2014 will be a big year for construction on the Atlanta BeltLine. Below is a preview of several upcoming projects in various stages of planning and execution. You can read the full timeline for the planned Atlanta BeltLine projects in the Strategic Implementation Plan.

 

  • The one-mile Eastside Trail southern extension will commence construction later this year. The Eastside Trail, which currently ends at Irwin Street, will be extended through Reynoldstown. Cyclists and pedestrians will use the Krog Tunnel, which will undergo improvements planned by the City of Atlanta, and will continue east on Wylie Street. The trail will then continue south on the corridor (just west of Flat Shoals Avenue) and end at Memorial Drive.
  • ABI is releasing an RFP to hire a farmer for the Urban Farm site in southwest Atlanta along the Westside Trail later this year. Bioswales and a well are installed and the initial plantings are taking root.
  • Construction on the Eastside Trail Gateway is underway. This trail will connect the popular 2-mile Eastside Trail with Historic Fourth Ward Park, which features 17 acres of greenspace and a 2-acre lake. The Gateway Trail will be completed by the end of summer 2014.
  • Construction on the Westside Trail will begin in the fall of this year, 2-3  years ahead of schedule as a result of the TIGER V Grant funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The 3 mile multi-use path will have 14 points of entry (11 of which will be ADA-accessible). The design and construction budget includes landscaping, lighting, surveillance cameras and ramps and stairs to several cross streets.

Be sure to check out the Construction Progress page for more details on the projects underway.

When will the northern stretch of the Eastside Trail be built?

 
In May, the Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Atlanta BeltLine a $600,000 grant to help fund clean-up in the northeast corridor from Monroe Drive to Buford Highway. This award, which recognizes the significant impact the project has had on brownfield remediation, goes a long way toward advancing the northern stretch of the Eastside Trail. Environmental work is presently underway, and design work is scheduled to begin in Period 1 (fiscal years 2014-1018) of the Strategic Implementation Plan.

Does the Atlanta BeltLine connect to MARTA?

Absolutely. The Atlanta BeltLine will connect to MARTA in at least four locations. In addition, transit serving the Atlanta BeltLine will also travel into other parts of the City, such as Downtown and Midtown, making additional connections to the MARTA system and other proposed transit systems entering Atlanta from other counties.

What is the timeline for transit?

During Period 1 (fiscal years 2014-2018)of the Strategic Implementation Plan, work will begin on the Atlanta BeltLine East and West transit segments. Because transit on the Atlanta BeltLine will integrate into the larger Atlanta Streetcar system, crosstown connections will also be built from the East and West segments to link into the Downtown Streetcar line. Presently, environmental assessments are underway for the Atlanta BeltLine East, West, and Crosstown transit segments. This process is necessary to refine conceptual project alignments, and to evaluate ridership potential, capital costs, land use, economic development, and environmental effects.

Read more about the Atlanta BeltLine / Atlanta Streetcar System Plan.

Securing agreements for the remaining right-of-way to complete the 22-mile loop of transit is planned for this period. Also in Period 1, The Southside corridor will enter environmental and engineering and planning will take place for the northwest and northeast portions of the transit corridor.

Is the Atlanta BeltLine a regional project?

Yes. The Atlanta BeltLine represents a vital expansion of the regional transit network. As part of a new modern streetcar/light rail transit network in the City of Atlanta it will provide crucial last mile connectivity to key regional employment and activity centers. It also expands the region’s trail and park systems to an unprecedented degree. Perhaps most importantly, it will shift regional development patterns over time, creative denser urban development in the core of the city, giving people better access to transit and other non-automobile oriented modes of transportation. In the long term, this will help the economic health of the region and mobility of the entire region.

Can the City of Atlanta afford this project in this economy?

Since 2005, the Atlanta BeltLine has generated more than $1 billion in private investment in the Tax Allocation District (TAD), the project’s primary funding mechanism. Additionally, the bonds issued by the TAD are not backed by the City’s general fund, but rather new private development (i.e. the more than $1 billion in new private investment). Looking around the city in this depressed market, it seems the only major construction activity that is actually happening is either on or around the Atlanta BeltLine. In this environment with people desperately needing jobs, it seems we can’t afford NOT to keep building the Atlanta BeltLine.

 How is the Atlanta BeltLine shaping private real estate development?

 Significant private development is already underway near the Atlanta BeltLine, with more than $1 billion of new development since 2005. In the Atlanta BeltLine planning area (1/2 mile on either side of the rail corridor) there are 88 developments either completed or in progress, representing 12,136 new residential units and 1,517,000 new non-residential square feet. Development activity around the Atlanta BeltLine has continued despite the economic downturn, and we expect it to increase further as the project advances. 

How is the Atlanta BeltLine handling public safety?

The Atlanta BeltLine has a long standing partnership with the Atlanta Police Deparmtent (APD). In 2013, APD formed the Path Force, a dedicated unit of 15 officers and 3 supervisors, all military veterans, who are dedicated to patrolling the Atlanta BeltLine trails, as well as the adjacent parks and neighborhoods.

 

In addition, the Atlanta BeltLine has facilitated several key upgrades to the Eastside Trail, including lighting improvements and added fixtures, mile markers for coordination with APD and tree pruning to improve visibility. Security cameras have been installed along several points on the Eastside Trail, integrating with the APD’s citywide Video Integration Center.

All future trails built in the Atlanta BeltLine corridor will include lighting, surveillance cameras and mile markers

 Will the Tax Allocation District (TAD) funding be enough to build out the Atlanta BeltLine?

The TAD has always been envisioned as the primary local funding source, but not the only funding source. In addition, critical environmental studies and other eligibility requirements are underway to secure more federal funding, per the original plan. We will continue to work to identify other sources, complementing the other sources we have relied on, including private dollars, other City of Atlanta capital funding and federal funds. Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. has begun the work to create a plan to complete the entire project; over the coming months, ABI will engage a consultant team and work with stakeholders and the community to form an implementation plan for all aspects of the Atlanta BeltLine, including the identification of new funding sources. To date, the project has relied on the following sources, in addition to the TAD:

  • $40 million raised in private donations to date
  • More than $25 million from federal sources to date
  • Other City capital funds from Parks, Watershed and Public Works, which have played a critical role and will continue to be important to the project 

Which entities are responsible for making the Atlanta BeltLine a reality?

There are three core entities that will work on behalf of the City, Fulton County, and Atlanta Public Schools (APS) to make the Atlanta BeltLine real. Invest Atlanta (formerly the Atlanta Development Authority) serves as legal redevelopment agent. This means they are responsible for the issuance of bonds, administration of BTAD funds and any City funds. Invest Atlanta is legally responsible for effective execution of BTAD project.

The Atlanta BeltLine Partnership is a nonprofit organization formed at the request of Mayor Shirley Franklin to bring together stakeholders dedicated to making the Atlanta BeltLine a reality. Now their focus is fundraising private dollars to help pay for the Atlanta BeltLine and raising community awareness.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc., an affiliate of the Invest Atlanta, is the entity tasked with planning and executing the implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine in partnership with City of Atlanta Departments and private partners. Its functions include specifically defining the Atlanta BeltLine plan; leading efforts to secure federal, state and local funding; continuing the Atlanta BeltLine community engagement process; and serving as the overall project management office to execute the Atlanta BeltLine plan, including the coordination of planning and execution activities with other City of Atlanta departments and managing all vendors and suppliers. Atlanta BeltLine Inc. is also responsible for tracking and reporting progress on the Atlanta BeltLine to the Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton County, the three taxing authorities that authorized the Atlanta BeltLine TAD legislation in 2005.

How can I get more involved with/learn more about the Atlanta BeltLine?

 

There are plenty of opportunities to learn about and get involved with the Atlanta BeltLine. Here are just a few:

  • Volunteer – There are several ways to volunteer with the Atlanta BeltLine. The ambassador program and the speakers bureau are a couple of ways to learn about the project and educate others. You can also sign up for individual opportunities such as neighborhood festivals and other events. If donating money instead of time makes more sense for your schedule, you can contribute by becoming a member of the Atlanta BeltLine.
  • Take a tour – The easiest way to learn more about the Atlanta BeltLine is to take a tour. The bus tours will take you on a tour of the entire Atlanta BeltLine, while knowledgeable guides share a wealth of information about the comprehensive reach of the project. Or, take a walking tour with a Trees Atlanta guide to get information about the linear arboretum on the Atlanta BeltLine right from the experts. You can now also take bike tours of the East and West sides of the Atlanta BeltLine, led by the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
  • Come to a meeting – If you have questions or want more information, whether it is general or specific, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for at a meeting. Community meetings and quarterly briefings are great way s to have your questions answered. For a general overview, the Atlanta BeltLine 101 will give you the basics.

Glossary

BAHAB
The (Atlanta) BeltLine Affordable Housing Advisory Board makes recommendations to the Atlanta Development Authority and City of Atlanta officials on affordable housing policies and performs other related tasks.


Corridor
The backbone for the Atlanta BeltLine project is the fairly narrow 22-mile existing rail corridor. All related elements radiate from this primary corridor.


EIS
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment". An EIS is a tool for decision making. It describes the positive and negative environmental effects of a proposed action, and it usually also lists one or more alternative actions that may be chosen instead of the action described in the EIS. (Wikipedia)


Study Groups (AKA Segments)
Created by the Atlanta City Council, Study Groups enable direct input into the planning, design, and implementation of the Atlanta BeltLine. There are five Study Groups around the Atlanta BeltLine (Northeast, Northside, Southeast, Southwest, and Westside), and they focus on topics ranging from park design to transit planning.


Subareas
The five Study Groups (geographically known as "segments") are split into ten subareas for planning. The ten subareas are organized as: Southwest (subareas 1 and 2), Southeast (subareas 3 and 4), Northeast (subareas 5 and 6), Northside (subareas 7 and 8), and Westside (subareas 9 and 10).


TADAC
The Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee makes recommendations on the issuance of TAD bond proceeds and performs other related tasks.