In a surprise announcement today, Atlanta Beltline officials declared they now own all the property needed to build the popular Eastside Trail up to the Armour area, a blossoming jobs hub near Lindbergh and Buckhead’s southeastern fringes.
The Beltline recently closed on 13 acres of land and inactive rail corridor formerly owned by Norfolk Southern between Rock Springs Road and Mason Street, near Interstate 85, officials said today.
Dubbed “the wye” because it’s shaped like a Y, this important, .25-mile Beltline piece will cross over the Buford Spring Connector and then under I-85 (see above) before linking with Mason Street near SweetWater Brewing Company.
The purchase is an example of Transportation-Special Local Option Sales Tax funding at work.
Leverage from TSPLOST funds (which were overwhelmingly approved by Atlanta voters in November) was used to secure a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund. That loan, officials said, will pay for the land acquisition as TSPLOST funds are collected over the next five years. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.
According to a press release, the Beltline believes the wye will allow for a “crucial” link to Armour Drive, an industrial district long home to SweetWater that’s coming to life with projects such as Armour Yards.
“The improved connectivity has the potential to fuel more creative-class jobs along the [Beltline],” reads the release. “Future northward extensions of the [trail] will also link the Armour area to Buckhead and the upcoming phases of the PATH400 trail.”
So when will Atlantans see more Eastside Trail being built?
To that point, officials said construction of the paved Beltline in the area “will commence when design is complete and construction funds are secured,” but no timeline was provided.
Recently installed Beltline president and CEO Brian McGowan said this in a prepared statement:
“Our partners at The Conservation Fund made this deal possible. In addition, Norfolk Southern worked with us on this complex transaction for a result to benefit everyone. Those partnerships, along with the support of the City and Atlanta voters who passed the T-SPLOST referendum, bring us closer to ‘closing the loop’ and bringing an equitable Atlanta Beltline to the entire city.”
All of this comes after news in July that Beltline officials were hoping to work in tandem with Georgia Power to develop the multi-use trail north of Piedmont Park. The power company is replacing large poles and other infrastructure in the area, and the Beltline seemed hopeful they’d chip in with costs and help with paving.
At that point, officials were referring to the segment as the “Northeast Trail,” as illustrated below, and the section running immediately next to Piedmont Park did not yet appear to be within the project’s scope.
We’ve asked for clarification—and even a vague timeline for construction—and will post any updates that come.
UPDATE: Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom provides some clarification that the scope of the Eastside Trail’s future northeastern segment will stretch from Monroe Drive/Piedmont Park up to Mason Street/Armour area.
“For planning purposes, we call that stretch the Northeast Trail, but it would likely be built in phases, so construction could take place over time and there could be a gap [near Piedmont Park or elsewhere],” Odom wrote in an email.
There’s no ballpark timeline available for construction funding—and thus, no outlook on when ground might actually break, Odom said.
On the flipside of town, Buckhead already enjoys the under-the-radar Northside Trail (photos here), a roughly one-mile stretch near Piedmont Hospital that debuted back in 2010, now with an additional spur that came five years later.
Elsewhere, the Beltline has expanded by three miles in Southwest Atlanta and roughly another mile south along the Eastside Trail in the past couple of years.