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Push to connect Atlanta Beltline with Silver Comet Trail is getting real

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4,000 signatures delivered to Gov. Deal this week in hopes of igniting further dialogue

A photo of the Eastside Trail in Old Fourth Ward.
The Eastside Trail in Old Fourth Ward.

Imagine hopping on the Atlanta Beltline in, say, Old Fourth Ward and having the ability to travel clear to Alabama without leaving a dedicated, paved trail.

That’s the vision of two motivated groups—the PATH Foundation and Connect the Comet—who want to bridge the gap between Atlanta’s wildly popular Beltline and the Silver Comet Trail. Connected trails, they tell WSB-TV, will boost tourism, property values, and recreation opportunities for both sides.

The efforts took a new step this week when 4,000 signatures were delivered to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office in hopes of triggering further dialogue about eliminating the missing link between trails.

The gap is just 6 and 12 miles of unused railway corridor.

The unused railway owned by CSX.
Screenshots via WSB-TV footage

Problem is, the railway line is out-of-service but isn’t officially abandoned. It’s owned by CSX Corp., who supporters say has been unwilling to come to the table for negotiations.

In another effort to boost the cause, groups have lined the needed tracks with signs they hope will build support, the news station reports.

Previously, proponents have estimated they’d need between $25 and $30 million to make the railroad company serious about negotiating.

For now, the Silver Comet Trail is a staggering 61.5 miles long and one of the most traveled trails in Georgia, counting more than 2 million users annually.

CSX also owns the out-of-service railway where the Beltline’s four-mile Southside Trail is planned.

Beltline officials have said plans call for acquiring the necessary Southside Trail land by 2018, using a mix of federal, local tax, and private funds. But the trail isn’t expected to open for several years.