Bemoaning the perennially slow progress of the Beltline has become almost as popular as using the trail itself. Plagued by constant uncertainty and legal battles, in 10 years since the incorporation of Atlanta Beltline Inc., no more than seven miles of the planned 22-mile loop have been completed, in scattershot pieces that don't yet provide large-scale connectivity. Even the Wall Street Journal called the project out for being slow. But just when we started to worry that we'd all be dead before the project finishes, the Georgia Senate seems interested in lending a helping hand, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
A recently proposed Senate Bill 4 calls for public-private partnerships to be permitted in the case of transit projects longer than 10 miles that affect 10,000 or more acres of land — a metric that conveniently includes the Beltline and exactly zero other projects in the state. The injection of private funds could greatly enhance the budget of the project well beyond its current taxes and federal grants.
In the last decade, $400 million in public funds has spurred more than $2.4 billion in private investment along the corridor. With private money allowed to flow into the project itself, the protracted timeline could decrease dramatically. One of the senators sponsoring the bill — like countless people who've invested in homes and businesses near the unbuilt Beltline — is hopeful for "a real breakthrough effort."
While state support for the project may come as a shock, the biggest surprise of all is that many of the sponsors of the bill aren't even from metro Atlanta; with support from places like Dahlonega, Lyons, Chickamauga and Danielsville, our slowness has clearly struck a nerve with the rest of the state.
Make this happen, Chickamauga, and your next beer is on us.
· Georgia Senate may speed Beltline's progress [Atlanta Business Chronicle; subscriber]
· National Media Calls Out Beltline for Slow Construction [Curbed Atlanta]
· Hiking the Beltline's Ghostly but Promising Southeast Trail [Curbed Atlanta]