Construction for the Atlanta BeltLine Westside Trail is making progress with the removal of a historic railroad bridge that once spanned over Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. In March of 2015, construction workers cut and removed large sections of the bridge piece-by-piece. The bridge was over 100 years old, and the new bridge will become part of the multi-use Westside Trail.
Although the railroad corridor hasn’t been used in over 30 years, it was once a lifeline to many areas of Atlanta. Constructed in 1904, it was initially developed in efforts to bring goods from to coastal markets and open the interior of Georgia to commercial interests. This section of railroad was used by trains until 1984. The abandoned corridor became overrun by kudzu and debris, but it was cleaned up and cleared out by the Atlanta BeltLine in 2010 for use as an interim hiking trail.
The bridge often caused accidents with trucks because it was low, and the bridge abutments left no room for sidewalks, forcing pedestrians crossing under the bridge to walk in the street.
According to the Astra Group, who is contracted to construct the Westside Trail, parts of the bridge will either be used for future construction projects, or sent to a recycling center.
Once constructed, the new bridge will be a part of the Westside Trail, a 3-mile corridor that will run from University Avenue in Adair Park to Lena Street at Washington Park.
The Westside Trail construction will take 2 years to complete, and will provide safe transportation for people commuting to work, children traveling to school, residents handling everyday needs, as well as recreation for adults and children alike. It will also connect six neighborhoods and four schools, making the old railroad corridor a major factor along the west side once again.
Edwards-Pittman Environmental, Inc. (2013). Phase I Archaeological Survey of the Atlanta BeltLine Southwest Corridor, Fulton County, Georgia. Smyrna, GA: Richard A. Moss and J. Dylan Woodliff