If the PATH400 project had a theme song right now, it would be that soul-lifting earworm "Happy." Denise Starling, Livable Buckhead Executive Director, announced Friday that the Georgia Department of Transportation has approved plans for the full 5.2-mile multi-purpose trail along Ga. Highway 400. Translation: The final hurdle has been cleared, pending more money! GDOT, which owns much of the right-of-way where PATH400 will be built, had previously approved plans for only a half-mile portion between Lenox and Old Ivy roads, which is already under construction. "We now have a green light to start building phase two of the trail," Starling said, "and we can proceed with our fundraising efforts for the remaining portions as well."
Starling said about 40 percent of the entire project has already been funded, "thanks in large part to $5 million provided by the PATH Foundation and the Buckhead Community Improvement District." The PATH Foundation and Livable Buckhead are hoping to start work on the project's Phase II within a month. (Take that, Beltline!) That stretch will extend from Old Ivy Road north to W. Wieuca Road and, last we heard, is expected to be finished by next spring.
Starling also announced another key step for PATH400 — the acquisition of a one-acre site previously home to the, um, house of a community-minded couple named Geoffrey and Sharon Kridel. The property at 519 Old Ivy Road will be converted to a "neighborhood park" and will allow for a better connection between the trail and the road. "Acquiring the land while construction is active means that much of the preparation for a park can be done now, saving time and money later," Starling's news release said. The purchase of the Kridel property also means Buckhead is more than 25 percent closer to adding the 106 acres of greenspace proposed in Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook's "Buckhead Collection."
So … what exactly does all this mean?
It means the $10-million project prophesied as the "spine of Buckhead's future parks system" is well on its way to fulfilling its destiny. It means Atlanta's most park-starved neighborhood is getting ever closer to greener days. And, when considered alongside other projects like the Beltline and the Atlanta Streetcar, it means that maybe — just maybe — we'll actually see fewer cars on the road one day.
PATH400 scenes, circa two months ago:
— By Curbed Atlanta contributor Tyler Estep. Photographs, earlier reporting by associate editor Kimberly Turner.