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!

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 happens to the Atlanta BeltLine projects on the Transportation Referendum list? 

Transit on the Atlanta BeltLine will still be built out as part of a larger modern streetcar/light rail network in the City of Atlanta connected to MARTA. The downtown Atlanta Streetcar, now under construction, is the first new segment of this new network. For the portions of the projects on the Atlanta BeltLine, we will use the TAD to leverage other sources of funding to complete the projects. The TSPLOST would have accelerated transit implementation by five to 10 years on the Atlanta BeltLine. Without it or other unanticipated funds, the timeline will be closer to what was originally envisioned as part of a 25-year plan. 

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. 

What is the timeline for transit?

Right of way acquisition and transit planning are underway. ABI continues to work with the City on a citywide Transit Implementation Strategy that will prioritize which segments of the Atlanta BeltLine will be built first, and when (pending funding). Mayor Reed, as Chair of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Transit Committee, will continue to work on the implementation of Concept 3 which includes the Atlanta BeltLine and streetcar network as well as long term financing and governance plans.

 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.

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.