Atlanta Beltline officials are setting in motion plans to extend the popular Eastside Trail from its current Irwin Street dead-end — news that's sure to delight residents of eastside neighborhoods, city boosters, property holders and developers of all stripes. The Beltline is requesting bids from firms qualified to take the trail another 1.25 miles — creating a continuous, multi-use path from Piedmont Park to the southern fringes of Reynoldstown — in the strongest indication yet that years of project delays might be ending. And they're setting firm deadlines, too: bids must be received by Oct. 13, and any interested contractor will be required to attend a pre-bid meeting at the end of this month. According to the fine print, the firm that gets the green-light to build the Eastside Trail's next leg will have roughly 18 months to complete it. Should they fail, they'll be slapped with fines of $1,000 per day.
According to the RFQ, more than 800,000 people per year have jogged, biked and walked the Eastside Trail since it opened in 2012. Once extended, most of the 3.5-mile trail will be 14-feet wide (the width of the current path) and will consume abandoned rail corridor. But there will be exceptions.
The basic plans go like this:
From Irwin Street, the trail will run under the revamped Edgewood Avenue bridge and hang a left on the north side of DeKalb Avenue. At the intersection of Krog Street, trail patrons will take a right. They'll be ushered by enhanced safety measures (signage, etc.) into the east side of the tunnel. In other words, the left side of the tunnel, if you've heading from Inman Park into Cabbagetown.
When quizzed by Curbed last year, Beltline officials described the trail's journey through the Krog Street Tunnel and beyond as follows:
"Within the Krog Street tunnel, the eastern walkway will have concrete pavers installed to enhance the surface in addition to new railings and LED lighting. It will be a pedestrian and "walk your wheels" zone. The western walkway, which is higher than the east, will get new railings and lights. Green paths will be painted on the roadway to alert drivers to share the road with cyclists in the tunnel.
"Along Wylie Street, the multi-use trail will run along the northern sidewalk. It will be 10-feet wide at that point (standard for our trails that are not directly in the old railroad corridor) along with a two-foot landscaped shoulder between the trail and street. Wylie Street itself will get speed humps and refreshed sharrows. The sidewalk on the southern side of the street will also remain."
From there, the trail will bust another right about 100 feet
past before Flat Shoals Road, entering a corridor that's still home to abandoned railroad tracks. The RFQ states the project would terminate at Kirkwood Avenue, but that an "Additional Alternative" (huh?) will take it from there to its terminus for the foreseeable future: Memorial Drive.
Officials have said they'll be able to disclose a cost estimate — and give a more firm construction timeline — once the bidding process wraps and a contractor is in place. We also asked last year if the extension might open piecemeal, or if the project is an all-or-nothing situation, like the current Eastside Trail was prior to opening. The response:
"ABI will work with the construction contractor to facilitate the quickest, most cost effective way to build the trail. It is possible that the whole corridor will go into construction at one time or that it is done one segment at a time with sections reopening as they are complete. Once the contractor has determined his approach, more information will be available in answer to this question."
Here's a Curbed photo gallery — compiled in August two years ago — of the Eastside Trail's next frontier. The Edgewood Avenue bridge project has obviously been completed, but much of the area in question looks pretty much the same:
· EASTSIDE TRAIL EXTENSION INVITATION TO BID [Beltline]
· Here Now, Your Most Burning Beltline Questions, Answered [Curbed]
· How The Beltline's Next Phase Looks Right Now [Curbed]