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Honoring Atlanta’s top 2018 wins for walking, biking the city

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In ways big and small, it was a notable year for non-vehicular infrastructure

For Atlantans who cherish the ability to safety walk, jog, bike, and scoot across the city, 2018 was a pretty big deal.

From the edges of Clarkston to Bankhead’s transit station, some ribbon-cuttings were splashy, headline-grabbing affairs this year. Other bike lanes and bridges opened with virtually no fanfare, which doesn’t mean they aren’t crucial to a growing, increasingly congested city.

Officials with Atlanta’s Department of City Planning provided Curbed Atlanta with this cost, funding source, and completion-date breakdown for 2018 projects highlighted in photos below—and others dotted throughout the city:

Below are our favorite additions to Atlanta’s pedestrian and biking infrastructure—both large and small, in the city’s core and not—from a momentous 2018.

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Marietta Street bike lanes

Signs give drivers the heads-up about newly installed bike lanes along Marietta Street downtown.

Finished this month, the City of Atlanta project has overhauled a 1.3-mile stretch of Marietta Street from the western edges of Georgia Tech to near the Georgia Aquarium, where buffered bike lanes installed last year were declared by People For Bikes the country’s best new additions.

The Marietta Street re-stripping, funded by $2.2 million in Renew Atlanta funds, created a road diet with a center turn lane and dedicated, five-foot lanes for cyclists.

It might not be the flashiest new addition to Atlanta’s walking and biking infrastructure in 2018, but the updated roadway lends piece of mind for anyone on two wheels trying to access downtown from the Westside, or vice versa.

The aquarium can be seen a block from where the bike lane ends on Marietta Street at Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard.
Old habits die hard.

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Proctor Creek Greenway

In May, the initial stretch of the Proctor Creek Greenway was officially unveiled for public use—and a new multiuser gem was born.

The first project of its kind funded by Atlanta TSPLOST cash (about $3.8 million total), the long-planned greenway now stretches three and 13 miles, beginning in Maddox Park near MARTA’s Bankhead station and covering bucolic terrain that includes a babbling creek, forests, and six bridges. (Additional funding provided by Atlanta Department of Watershed Management and PATH Foundation donors helped the initial section materialize, following about a year of construction, PATH Foundation officials tell Curbed Atlanta).

Eventually, the trail is expected to span seven miles, linking the Beltline’s Westside Trail with the Chattahoochee River, with some 400 acres of green space alongside it. At a May ribbon-cutting ceremony, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called completing the greenway a priority of her administration, while expressing relief that “a once overwhelmingly polluted” creek has been restored.

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Northwest Atlanta Beltline Connector loop

Joggers pass the entrance to Bobby Jones Golf Course along the trail.

Alterations to Bobby Jones Golf Course in Buckhead weren’t without controversy this year, but it’s tough to argue that the one-mile trail now encircling (almost) the course isn’t a win for intown, outdoor recreation.

Counting two new bridges (both eye-pleasing and functional) and skyline views, the Northwest Atlanta Beltline Connector was opened by PATH officials in October. It links to an unsung stretch of the Beltline in the area.

PATH used $2 million in TSPLOST funding to build the loop, while PATH donors funded design and construction management.

Have a look in this photo roundup:

This new pedestrian bridge on the north side of the golf course echoes the aesthetic of a PATH bridge installed three years ago on the flipside of the green space.
Josh Green, Curbed Atlanta
The trail starts (or ends) abruptly near Woodward Way and Northside Drive, where a future Georgia Department of Transportation pedestrian bridge is planned. Eventually the trail will completely encircle Bobby Jones Golf Course.
Watch for stray balls as you climb the Northside Drive hill.
The driving range at the golf course is easily viewable from the trail as it nears a new wooden bridge.
The new wooden bridge installed on the trail runs parallel to Northside Drive.
The trail picks back up on the other side of the main drive into Bobby Jones Golf Course.
The PATH bridge installed in 2015.
The bridge at the end of the Northwest Beltline Connector Trail before it links in to the Northside Beltline Trail, spanning a section of Peachtree Creek.

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Stone Mountain PATH Bridge over I-285

The bridge, with I-285 beneath.

This Corten steel bridge was placed along Church Street in Clarkston in time for summer bicycle traffic this year, allowing pedestrians to cross over Interstate 285 without mingling with surface-street car traffic. Anyone who survived patronized this section of the PATH trail linking downtown to Stone Mountain before knows what a boost to convenience and safety the bridge is now.

According to the PATH Foundation, the bridge is 275 feet long, weighs 96,000 pounds, and cost about $1.3 million. After years of negotiating with CSX Transportation about railroad right-of-way, an agreement was reached with DeKalb County government in 2016 that allowed for the bridge to materialize this year.

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Home Depot Backyard bridge

Parallel to Northside Drive, the pedestrian bridge is seen before an Atlanta United playoff match.
Josh Green

At the Home Depot Backyard tailgate zone and communal hangout, a 12-foot-wide pedestrian bridge—connecting to a 50-foot-wide hardscape pathway—linked with existing PATH trails in the area this year.

It makes for a more contiguous biking or walking experience, beside a busy thoroughfare that’s hostile to anyone not behind a steering wheel.

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Pricey stadium bridge

The pedestrian bridge that connects both sides of Northside Drive at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Ripped as being redundant, overpriced, over-designed, and woefully unneeded, this serpentine new bridge beside downtown Atlanta’s $1.5 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium might not be a “win” in the eyes of many, but not mentioning it here would smack as an oversight.

The ADA-compliant bridge spans five-lane Northside Drive, connecting the new stadium with the Vine City MARTA Station, nearby parking, and Westside neighborhoods. But it has caught flak for bloated costs for taxpayers—the latest estimate is $23 million, or nearly double what Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration had predicted in 2016—while others, including Atlanta City Councilmembers, have wondered aloud whether the bridge serves nearby communities such as Vine City or just sports fanatics and tourists.

More recently, detractors have pointed to the costly bridge’s impact on other projects starved for funding, such as Howell Mill Road’s complete streets makeover.

But hey, it glows!

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Honorable Mention

A crucial segment of PATH’s South Peachtree Creek Trail debuted for public use in October, providing a link between Emory University’s campus and the Clairmont Heights, Medlock Park, Mason Mill Park, and Leafmore neighborhoods. Bravo.