Several important developments for the Atlanta BeltLine have transpired in recent weeks. The release of a feasibility study for the Northwest Trail and the groundbreaking for the next phase of Northeast Trail construction each represent significant milestones. Senior Transportation Engineer Shaun Green is heavily involved in both, so this month we are highlighting his contributions to the BeltLine project.
A Boston native, Shaun Green grew up believing in the Massachusetts Commonwealth’s ethos of shared commitments and loyalties. His early appreciation for the value of quality public spaces set him on a path to working on the largest project in the history of Atlanta for connecting neighborhoods and rethinking common spaces for public use.
An important step on that journey was his decision to study engineering in Atlanta. He was steered to Georgia Tech by a family friend and Shaun says, “going to Tech was one of the best decisions I ever made because it set me on a trajectory for my professional life.” Shaun also met his wife at Tech and they married and bought a house in Home Park, a neighborhood just north of campus (all Tech alums have at least one Home Park story) while still in school. Hoping to work in music technology, Shaun studied electrical engineering initially, but soon decided, “I’m going to go do what my dad did, which was Civil Engineering, and go play in the dirt with concrete and steel.”
Shaun’s first job after graduation was as a traffic engineering consultant for a company in Midtown, which allowed him to continue using a bicycle as his primary mode of transportation. He says, “I pride myself on being a bicycle commuter in Atlanta since 1994.” Among other duties, Shaun was involved with installing bike lanes on West Peachtree Street in Midtown and along Bill Kennedy Way in Glenwood Park, the latter of which is now a connecting point for the Eastside and Southside Trails of the Atlanta BeltLine.
In 2003, Shaun took a job as a traffic engineer with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA). He found this to be a great networking opportunity because of GRTA’s 13 county footprint and the opportunity to work with engineers and public works officials in all the counties and cities, as well as consultants across the region. Shaun’s duties expanded and he was eventually a director for all phases of development for GRTA’s express bus service.
After 10 years with GRTA, Shaun was eager for a new challenge and jumped at the opportunity to join the Atlanta BeltLine team to work on planning, engineering, and delivery of BeltLine transit. The three primary transit projects were Atlanta BeltLine East, Atlanta BeltLine West, and the Crosstown Midtown corridor, but planning was paused until a revenue source could be identified. In 2016, BeltLine transit was included as part of a “More MARTA” sales tax approved by City of Atlanta voters, and MARTA announced a roughly $3 billion project list in 2018. It was subsequently determined that MARTA would become the agency responsible for implementing transit on the BeltLine corridor.
Shaun remains involved with BeltLine transit planning and says, “MARTA is ABI’s streetcar implementation partner, with funding from a sales tax collected from Atlanta residents and visitors. We work earnestly with MARTA to help shape the delivery of the Streetcar on the corridor.” Phase one of BeltLine Streetcar transit from Irwin Street to Ponce de Leon Avenue is scheduled for completion in 2027, with 30% plans currently under review. Shaun notes that this type of service is distinctly different from other MARTA operations. “MARTA is the region’s transit provider, but the purpose of BeltLine transit is more for last-mile connectivity, economic development, and a framework for another level of transit within that regional network. The goal is to offer a viable alternative mode of transportation and leverage it to frame the development of the city over the next 50 to 100 years.”
Shaun also works on planning the buildout of the BeltLine’s Northeast and Northwest Trails. The Northeast Trail features three segments between Piedmont Park and Lindbergh MARTA station, and he anticipates the 60% plan submittal this summer. Ultimately, the Northeast Trail will provide a link to the Northwest Trail and connecting spur trails to Armour Ottley, PATH 400, and MARTA Lindbergh.
Unlike other sections of the BeltLine, there is not an abandoned rail corridor through the area of the Northwest Trail. To link the Westside and Northeast Trails, Shaun says, “we are flossing our way through NW Atlanta” with several proposed alignments that “try to maximize the amount of exclusive trail corridor.” Each includes stretches of trail adjacent to roadways, and all were included in the Northwest Trail feasibility study released in May 2022. Additional studies and more rounds of public engagement will occur this year before a final alignment is selected. Though much work remains, Shaun says, “the program we have for trail delivery shows us completing the 22-mile loop of trail within the 2028-2029 time frame.”
Shaun is excited about the progress to come and says, “I mentioned the dynamics of growing up in the Commonwealth, and people here are starting to want more investment in public spaces and see it done well.” He believes the BeltLine plays a big part, adding, “one of our goals is to show the value of a very intentional and high designed public space and the positive impact it can have throughout the city, and I think we’ve been pretty successful with that.”
Shaun enjoys playing drums and hockey in his free time. He and his wife have three daughters and live in the same Midtown Atlanta house they bought in college.