Fourteen months after Atlanta dignitaries gathered in pre-pandemic revelry, spoke of a better-connected city, and hoisted shovelfuls of dirt to mark the launch of more BeltLine construction, the long-discussed Southside Trail corridor is beginning to visually take shape.
In February 2020, security fencing went up, and crews began work on the Southside Trail’s first .8-mile section—called Southside Trail-West—as an extension of the Westside Trail, which currently dead-ends in Adair Park. It marked the first time in BeltLine history that three trail segments were under construction at once.
The Southside Trail project forged ahead despite societal lockdowns, and a recent visit suggests concrete can’t be far behind. BeltLine officials say the first segment is on track to open this summer, swooping around Adair Park and connecting with Capitol View, Capitol View Manor, and the Pittsburgh Yards project, an emerging jobs center.
A design phase for the remainder of the Southside Trail—segments two through five, totaling about three miles—is all but finished, the BeltLine reported in late February. How funding will be generated to pay for construction remains an unknown, but a majority of the Atlanta City Council is expected to vote in favor today of Special Service District (SSD) legislation, creating a specified area where a new tax would be culled from commercial property owners.
It’s a controversial move, but one that BeltLine backers say will juice construction of remaining trail segments with $100 million in new monies funneled in from a tax bump supporters have called “slight.”
Moving along the Southside Trail corridor, to the point where Grant Park meets Boulevard Heights and Ormewood Park on the city’s southeast side, BeltLine officials have inked a contract for fabrication and installation of a new bridge that will span United Avenue.
The former rail bridge had to be removed last year following a truck collision in June. What’s left is an impassable gap, requiring BeltLine users to take interim stairs down to the avenue and back up. (Or to venture onto streets for an ADA-accessible detour.)
The firm hired by the BeltLine should have the new bridge designed, built, and installed around May or June, officials recently said.
Lastly, as predicted in February, contractor Reeves Construction Company has begun work to extend the Eastside Trail over Interstate 20 between Reynoldstown and Glenwood Park, a critical link. (Gone is the harrowing tight-sidewalk experience from before.)
An eight-foot-wide trail is being installed on the eastern side of the bridge, with a concrete barrier standing nearly three feet to keep vehicles separated from BeltLine users.
Traffic lanes remain open in both directions, and a second phase to finish the Bill Kennedy Way project over Interstate 20 is expected later this spring.
• Fresh renderings: Where the biggest BeltLine development to date stands now (Urbanize Atlanta)