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AeroATL sketches master plan for massive Beltline-esque project near airport

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The airport-adjacent trail network could dwarf Ryan Gravel’s brainchild one day

A woman in a parking lot points to a mocked-up version of a multi-use trail drawn with chalk and paint.
A project official shows off the 8-foot-wide multi-use trail format.
Sean Keenan, Curbed Atlanta

Plans for a multi-use trail network surrounding Atlanta’s airport are coming together, and the finished product could one day make the Beltline project look relatively miniscule.

Remaining images courtesy of Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance

The Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance (cool name: AeroATL), a group formed in 2015 to spruce up neighborhoods near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, hosted its last community engagement meeting March 29 before drafting the master plan for a massive web of trails that would weave through ITP’s southern reaches and beyond.

Rough estimates for AeroATL’s greenway plan call for some 200 miles of pathways snaking through Hapeville, College Park, East Point, and Forest Park.

One day—ideally—it’ll connect with the Beltline, too, the project’s backers say.

Over the next five years, Aerotropolis’s Community Improvement District (CID) aims to construct the project’s “model miles”—the top-priority segments, per resident input.

During Thursday’s meeting, officials from the Aerotropolis CID and its hired consultant groups teased ideas for a handful of trail formats.

Each mile of the greenway proposal is expected to cost at least $1 million, although the various trail types they’re weighing range from about $100,000 to $5 million per mile. The group expects that to be funded with a 70/30 percent public-private investment.

One option they’re taste-testing would entail an 8-foot-wide multi-use sidewalk. Another was for a 12-foot-wide bike-only path.

In light of community input fielded at previous meetings and in an online survey, project officials are also considering buildouts for “multi-modal” stretches of the trails—pieces of path that would allow emission-free vehicles.

In some East Point neighborhoods, for instance, residents traverse town with golf carts, and planners think there might be room in the plan to accommodate.

The Atlanta Regional Commission funded most of a $200,000 study on the efficacy of AeroATL’s undertaking, and that analysis is wrapping up now.

Still, blueprints are very much tentative, according to CID Project Director Kirsten Mote.

“It’s still changing based on the input we get from the public tonight, and there will be more opportunities to weigh in once we’ve drafted the master plan,” Mote said at last week’s meeting. “We’re going to go before all the city councils to present the draft plan, and stakeholders will continue to comment on it until we finalize the plan.”

An official draft of the project’s master plan could emerge as early as next month, although Mote said it’ll likely be published closer to midsummer.

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