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Atlanta Beltline’s next leg could extend to ... Buckhead!?!

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Beltline leaders are exploring a construction partnership with Georgia Power, which will be upgrading power lines in the area this fall

Where the proposed Northeast Trail passes Ansley Golf Course.
Where the proposed Northeast Trail passes Ansley Golf Club.
Curbed Atlanta, 2014 photo essay

Could the Atlanta Beltline’s next stop en route to becoming a city-looping circle be the southeastern fringes of Buckhead? Maybe so.

That’s the takeaway from a bombshell informational meeting last week in which Beltline leaders unveiled revised plans for what’s now called the “Northeast Trail,” a graveled corridor stretching from Piedmont Park to the Lindbergh area that wasn’t supposed to have been developed for years.

As Atlanta INtown Paper reports, the change of plans was spurred by work that Georgia Power will be doing, beginning this fall, to update power lines and infrastructure along the interim hiking trail.

That construction activity could prove serendipitous for the growing Beltline, which is expanding by three miles in Southwest Atlanta and roughly another mile south along the Eastside Trail.

Beltline officials, as the paper reports, are hoping Georgia Power will chip in with costs to build an extension of the multi-use trail from north of Piedmont Park while the company replaces its power infrastructure, including large poles.

Georgia Power’s landscape architect for the project, Ray Strychalski of Kimley-Horn, told the paper the power company’s work will include removing train tracks, leveling the ground, and possibly paving a section of the Beltline’s Northeast Trail, depending upon what deals can be reached.

At least three connection points, including one at Ansley Mall, are being mulled.

A few years ago, the Beltline scored federal funding to help with cleanup and construction efforts on the section between Monroe Drive and Lindbergh, but leaders have said the money isn’t sufficient to build the trail.

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.

For now, it’s likely the Northeast Trail would begin just south of Ansley Mall and terminate, on the north end, a little ways beyond Interstate 85 at Mayson Street. So it wouldn’t yet seem like a contiguous, northward extension of the Eastside Trail, due to a probable gap at Piedmont Park.

Where the Eastside Trail currently ends at Piedmont Park.
Curbed Atlanta, 2014

The good news?

A Kimley-Horn rep said their contract for design and construction could be extended to build the full trail between Monroe Drive (where the Eastside Trail ends) up to Armour Drive, an industrial district long home to SweetWater Brewery Company that’s coming to life with projects such as Armour Yards.

But planning for the extension into the Lindbergh area (where Buckhead’s PATH400 is headed) likely won’t begin for two years, the paper reports.

Officials stressed that all plans and negations are in early stages, but that Georgia Power’s work in the corridor is expected to begin within a few months.

The gravel trail extending through Atlanta’s marquee greenspace.
Curbed Atlanta, 2014

An interesting stipulation is that the Beltline would have to allow for the construction of five Georgia Power maintenance pads—hard-surface areas where rare power-line fixes could be performed, spanning 25 by 60 feet—at various points along the trail.

When not in use, however, these pads could be utilized for creative purposes—think: performance stages, Beltline pitstops for rest and water, small gardens, food-truck parking, even labyrinths, to name a few suggestions—so long as it’s all quickly removable if Georgia Power needs to get work done.

None of this would do much to remedy the Beltline’s affordable housing issues—for which the project took a front-page lashing in Sunday’s AJC—but it could extend recreation and commuting options to thousands of Atlantans.

For an idea of what this undeveloped Beltline stretch looks like now, have a gander at our photo essay from three years ago; little has changed since.

Here’s a look at early visuals:

Remaining images via Atlanta Beltline presentation, Kimley-Horn

The broader view:

The full scope to Lindbergh, which would come later:

Three potential access points that could deliver Beltline patrons to Ansley Mall shopping options, as well as businesses and homes north of Interstate 85: