The push to extend the Atlanta Beltline from the edge of Piedmont Park northward to MARTA’s Lindbergh Center Station took a significant step forward this week.
In what Beltline president and CEO Brian McGowan described as a “very competitive” selection process, Marietta-based Heath and Linebacker Engineers was picked to design and engineer the highly anticipated Northeast Corridor Trail, a multipurpose path that promises to link Midtown and Buckhead like never before.
The Atlanta Regional Commission is providing $4 million for design work, which is expected to launch this summer and take about two and a half years. Community engagement efforts are underway, with more meetings planned for design feedback, officials said.
The engineering firm selected is known for specializing in bridge, roadway, and pedestrian facilities. The Northeast Trail should be the first Beltline section to cross Interstate 85 and active railroad tracks, noted Patrick Peters, Heath and Lineback’s project manager for the new trail, in a press release. He added: “This trail will advance the vision of walking or biking from Memorial Drive, through Piedmont Park, and all the way to the Armour-Ottley district, PATH400, and MARTA’s Lindbergh station in Buckhead.”
Plans for the Beltline corridor also promise to connect with intersecting trails in and around Buckhead, including PATH400, North Fork Peachtree Creek, and South Fork Peachtree Creek trails.
In other Beltline news, Atlantans who frequent the popular Eastside Trail after hours with hopes of having a more lit experience might need to be patient.
The push to install motion-activated lights on the Eastside Trail, which counts nearly 2 million visitors from around the world annually, formalized with an Atlanta Beltline Partnership “Light the Line” campaign in 2016, but those efforts fell short of a need $1.1 million.
Nonetheless, the raised money was earmarked as a local match for TSPLOST tax funds that enabled Beltline officials to leverage a Transportation Enhancement grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation for roughly $560,000, a spokesperson told Curbed Atlanta last year.
As of October, GDOT was finalizing designs for the Eastside Trail lighting, with plans to issue a request for proposals for the installation by this past spring, when the light poles were expected to start popping up.
With spring officially in the rearview, we’ve been nudging Beltline leaders for an update on the trail’s lighting situation—or for verification that the RFPs were indeed distributed—but were recently told that more internal meetings are required before detials can be provided.
“It’s not looking like we’re going to have an answer in the near term,” Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom wrote in an email last week.
The photos below—taken recently at dusk, within minutes and a couple of blocks of each other—illustrate the difference in visibility between the Eastside Trail’s newer, lighted stretch (top) and the longer, unlighted section that bends from Irwin Street to Piedmont Park.
Initial plans suggested the lighting will be low-energy, LED path lights dotted every 90 feet along the trail. All lights were to be equipped with motion sensors that would brighten them as joggers, walkers, and cyclists pass at night.