True to its name, the Westside BeltLine Connector is expected to one day offer a multiuse trail connection like Atlanta—and no city in the country, for that matter—has ever seen.
But first things first.
The 1.7-mile Westside BeltLine Connector, or WBC, has been accessible to commuters, exercisers, and urban explorers since late last year. But not until today did the entities that partnered to build it—the PATH Foundation, alongside Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, and the city’s Parks Department—declare the pathway officially open.
The WBC begins downtown at the intersection of Northside Drive and Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, near the Georgia World Congress Center, and incorporates four new or refurbished bridges and 17 acres of linear public greenspace.
Along the way, it stitches together neighborhoods such as Vine City, English Avenue, Bankhead, and Howell Station with new development including Lincoln Property Company's mixed-use Echo Street West.
The BeltLine used $5.1 million in TSPLOST dollars to acquire the corridor in 2019. PATH collected $5.7 million in private dollars, alongside $2.3 million from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership, to cover design, engineering, and construction of the $8 million new trail, officials previously told Urbanize Atlanta.
If PATH’s plans come to fruition, the WBC will merely be the beginning.
The broader goal is to use the WBC as part of a 10-mile trail connection linking downtown to PATH’s 61-mile Silver Comet Trail in Cobb County, utilizing recently abandoned CSX rail corridor near Plant Atkinson Road. (In Smyrna, work is underway now to extend the Silver Comet toward Atlanta, inside Instate 285.)
Doing so, as PATH officials note, would make Atlanta the only major U.S. city with a trail shooting from its downtown core for more than 100 miles into a neighboring state—in this case, Alabama. (The Silver Comet joins the Chief Ladiga path in Alabama for a combined 95 miles.)
Clyde Higgs, BeltLine president and CEO, called the new trail segment “unprecedented” in that it ties downtown together with “some of our most under-resourced neighborhoods, several emerging job centers, and our expansive network of parks around the loop,” according to a “grand opening” announcement today.
Included in the WBC is a stone marker commemorating PATH’s 300th mile of trail, as celebrated during the organization’s 30th anniversary this year.
“Whether walking, biking, jogging, or riding a scooter,” said PATH executive director Greta deMayo, “the WBC will provide Westside residents with easy access to resources that enhance quality of life, health and wellness, education, and more."
See the gallery above for a quick photo tour of WBC highlights, beginning near downtown and heading toward Westside Park.
• Sneak peek: Westside BeltLine Connector, how downtown links to the loop (Urbanize Atlanta)