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Mayor: $26M buys Beltline’s Southside corridor; expect interim trail soon

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Funded by TSPLOST dollars, the deal marks the single largest remaining land acquisition for entire Beltline project

Where the Southside Trail will begin at Glenwood Avenue in Ormewood Park.
Where the Southside Trail will begin at Glenwood Avenue in Ormewood Park.
Curbed Atlanta

A monumental Atlanta Beltline land deal has officially been inked.

At a Thursday press conference, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the acquisition of dormant railroad corridor from owner CSX required to build the Beltline’s crescent-shaped, four-mile Southside Trail segment.

By connecting existing Beltline pieces west and east of downtown, the Southside Trial will eventually create about 14 contiguous miles of Beltline, linking together nearly 20 neighborhoods.

The $26 million deal for 63 total acres, per Bottoms, was made possible by TSPLOST funding approved by Atlanta voters in 2016. The Beltline’s transit and trail vision calls for a 22-mile loop within about a decade.

Funded by a $2.4 million Atlanta Regional Commission grant, design work for the Southside Trail is already underway. A Kimley-Horn design team is expected to launch detailed engineering and site investigations soon.

Beltline officials hope to open the trail in an interim state within a year, but in the short term it’ll be off-limits, as CSX gets busy removing remaining rails.

The community engagement process began two years ago and will continue to determine “trail alignment, access points, vertical connections, and preparation for future transit,” per a city release. The trial will stretch from Glenwood Avenue in Ormewood Park, south of downtown, to University Avenue, bolstering developments such as the recently activated Pittsburgh Yards, officials said.

“This inactive rail corridor that once divided neighborhoods can now be used to create jobs, transit, and affordable housing options for communities south of downtown,” Brian McGowan, Beltline president and CEO, said in a release.

The Beltline has compiled early renderings of the southernmost segment.

When the southernmost segment and a northward extension of the Eastside Trail are complete, Atlantans will enjoy what officials refer to as “the J”—that is, a continuous Beltline running from near Lindbergh around to Washington Park in West End.

A small gap does exist in Reynoldstown between the Eastside Trail’s new terminus and Memorial Drive. But sources have told Curbed Atlanta the wheels are turning on a bridge purchase and other work that would make closing that gap possible.

For a look the Southside Trail’s current state (sans a lot of recent development), have a peek at our 2015 photo essay.