Atlanta BeltLine Northwest Trail Prioritized Alignments Announced

Alignments are now determined for the full trail loop

Atlanta BeltLine Northwest Trail prioritized alignments as of August 30, 2022.
Atlanta BeltLine Northwest Trail prioritized alignments as of August 30, 2022.

At a public meeting last night, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and PATH Foundation announced the selected, prioritized alignment for the final segment of the Northwest Trail. This is major progress for the Northwest Trail. Initial alignments were announced in May with one segment requiring further study.

The prioritized alignment will run alongside Peachtree Park Drive and Bennett Street. This is referred to as Corridor 6 in the Northwest Trail Feasibility Study.

Over the past three months, ABI and PATH engaged an outside consultant to provide an economic impact assessment including extensive outreach and analysis along the Bennett Street business district. Community engagement in the district included two Q&A townhall listening sessions, information packets with FAQs, one-on-one interviews, flyers and digital surveys.

“We are pleased to have an alignment selected for the full Northwest Trail and thrilled at the opportunity it presents for connectivity amongst many neighborhoods and business districts,” said Clyde Higgs, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “For the first time in our history, we have a defined path for the full 22-mile loop. Completing the trail brings us one step closer to building a more equitable and inclusive Atlanta.”

The Process:

The Northwest Trail was divided into western and eastern study areas in order to determine the most feasible alignments to advance to the design stage. The eastern study area, divided into two segments, focused on connecting the future Northeast Trail in the Amour-Ottley commercial district, through Peachtree Hills, and to the Northside Trail by Bobby Jones Golf Course. Segment 1 will run between Peachtree Park Apartments and Kinsey Court. Segment 2 had three options under exploration to connect between Peachtree Park Apartments and the Northside Trail beside the golf course. The established priority order of the feasibility study alignments is Corridor 6, Corridor 5 and Corridor 7. For a full analysis, please download the Northwest Trail Feasibility Study Addendum.

The western segments of the Northwest Trail alignment begin at the southern end of the Northside Trail in Ardmore Park and will traverse a portion of Tanyard Creek, under I-75, across Northside Drive, alongside the Hemphill Water Treatment Plant and Howell Mill Road to reach the northern end of the Westside Trail at Huff Road and Marietta Boulevard. The corridor has been divided into Segments 3, 4 and 5 for implementation, totaling 2.8 miles.

Strong support for Corridor 6

During the development of the initial report and the extended three-month study period, Corridor 6 remained the most strongly supported option by the community among the three eastern corridors.

The criteria for the study of Segment 2 were evaluated based on feasibility of acquiring real estate and ease of construction as well as the quality of the trail user experience, equity, and community feedback, taking into consideration the long-term benefits for the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

Segment 2 will now move into design and engineering along with the other segments. The trail length for the eastern segments will be 1.5 miles.

Northwest Trail proposed rendering along Bennett Street as presented on August 2, 2021.
Northwest Trail proposed rendering along Bennett Street as presented on August 2, 2021.

Next steps

The recommended next steps along Corridor 6 are to continue due diligence, including survey work, examine how to cross Peachtree Road, explore design and engineering options, and look for the most cost effective solutions. The prioritization of Corridor 6 does not mean that Corridors 5 and 7 are discarded. As work continues to develop solutions to identified challenges, obstacles may be encountered that may require prioritization of another corridor.

The original Northwest Trail Feasibility Report is available here. The Northwest Trail Feasibility Study Addendum is available here.

The Northwest Trail continues to be one of the more complicated sections to deliver due to the lack of an abandoned railroad corridor, requiring careful consideration and study with community input.  The potential Northwest Trail corridors were analyzed through a lens of equity and inclusion, with the intention to avoid disproportionate negative impacts to different communities. ABI and PATH will continue to study impacts to two primarily Black neighborhoods, Bankhead and English Avenue, as well as Bennett Street, a business district with a concentration of Black-owned businesses, with consideration to access to economic activity centers as a positive impact and risk of displacement as a negative impact.

The Northwest Trail will be funded primarily through the BeltLine Tax Allocation District (TAD), philanthropic contributions including $30 million recently announced by The James M. Cox Foundation, and Special Service District (SSD) bond proceeds.

A recording of the August 30 meeting is available here and the presentation can be downloaded here.

For more information on ABI’s active projects, view the design and construction updates for August 2022.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *