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The Atlanta BeltLine
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On the Trail to Healthier Living
The Atlanta BeltLine is investing in Atlanta and the health of its citizens by addressing critical issues impacting health in our city. Even modest increases in physical activity have the potential to produce significant health benefits.
Building a Case for Healthier Atlantans
The built environment is not always supportive of physical activity and active lifestyles, particularly in low-income neighborhoods like those found along some areas of the Atlanta BeltLine. There are many variables that impact the health and wellness of a community:
- Heightened mortality rates: Several communities along the Atlanta BeltLine have higher death rates for diseases related to physical inactivity, specifically: heart disease, malignant neoplasms (cancer), and diabetes.
- Environmental and societal barriers to physical activity that may include:
- lack of access to infrastructure and services
- economic limitations
- built environments that are unsafe and prohibit healthy activities
To counter these obstacles to healthy lifestyles in Atlanta, the Atlanta BeltLine is developing an environment that creates opportunities for a healthy and active lifestyle that can potentially increase physical activity in the most vulnerable populations. The Atlanta BeltLine’s 33 miles of multi-use trails, 22 miles of transit, 1,300 acres of new parks, and 6,500 acres of redevelopment will provide increased opportunities for purposeful and utilitarian physical activity.
- Atlanta’s public and private sectors (including Atlanta BeltLine donors Kaiser Permanente and PATH Foundation/Sarah and Jim Kennedy) are investing in the sort of built environment that creates more opportunity for physical activity – ultimately impacting our health spending bottom line.
- Built in partnership with PATH, 3.5 miles of multi-use trails have opened along the southwest and northern sections of the Atlanta BeltLine, and seven miles of hiking trail open, trail segments already benefitting neighborhoods in the West End, and other neighborhoods. The Eastside Trail – 2.5 miles connecting Piedmont Park to Dekalb Avenue – is currently under construction.
- Atlantans using the Eastside Trail are projected to increase their average time of exercise per week by 30 minutes within the first year of opening.
- Over 480 acres of land have been secured for parks and greenspace, with help from the Trust for Public Land. New and expanded parks helping support active lifestyles in their communities include Stanton Park, Historic Fourth Ward Park and Skatepark, Boulevard Crossing Park, the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Piedmont Park expansion. Additionally, West Side Reservoir, Enota, Maddox, Lang Carson, and Perkerson Parks are also in various stages of planning and design.
- Students from nearby Atlanta Public Schools will use the trail to improve their physical fitness. In building the trail, the corridor for transit will also begin taking shape – and that transit will also impact health and health costs. Like trails, access to transit will provide more physically and economically disadvantaged Atlantans in particular access to medical services and the ability to obtain healthy, affordable food.
Like everything about the Atlanta BeltLine, its intended impact is not only the 45 neighborhoods around its 22 miles encircling the city, but also across the city and region, weighing the potential health benefits and consequences of our public policies and investments in infrastructure.
Vested Interest for Citizens, Local Government and Business
Healthier citizens = lower healthcare costs = fewer missed days of work = lower turnover = more productive workforce
For additional information on how the Atlanta BeltLine will impact health in Atlanta, view the Atlanta BeltLine Health Impact Assessment.
Below are links to a few of the critical studies that have shaped the Atlanta BeltLine:
- Ryan Gravel’s Georgia Tech Thesis: The initial proposal to transform the railroad corridor to link neighborhoods with a new transit system
- Emerald Necklace Study: Alexander Garvin’s original study which concluded that a connected park, trail and transit system along the BeltLine was achievable and included a proposed plan for the eventual project
- Environmental Justice Policy: This policy explains the Atlanta BeltLine’s commitment to the fair treatment of people of all races, age, cultures and incomes; and how they shall all be fully considered during the Atlanta BeltLine’s planning, decision-making, development and implementation of programs, policies, and activities.
- Redevelopment Plan: Outlines the boundary of the TAD area and estimates the potential bonding capacity of the TAD area to fund the planned public infrastructure investments
- MARTA Locally Preferred Alternative: This study examined transit options for the City of Atlanta and included the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine transit system as a Locally Preferred Alternative.