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CSX’s new lease with Georgia to bring Silver Comet Trail 2.3 miles closer to ATL

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This could be a sign the popular trail will one day link with the Atlanta Beltline loop

A paved trail runs off into the woods.
Connecting the Silver Comet Trail with the Beltline would mean cyclists could travel from downtown Atlanta to Alabama without leaving a paved path.
Silver Comet Map

A $10 deal might have just put the Silver Comet Trail ever closer to connecting with the Atlanta Beltline.

Sort of.

On Friday, CSX signed a lease with the State of Georgia that would allow the company to continue operating on the Western and Atlantic Railroad, which connects Atlanta and Chattanooga, according to the Cobb County Courier.

Starting in 2020, CSX will pay the state $1 million per month, which is expected to net more than $1 billion over the next 50 years, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In exchange for just $10, CSX agreed to abandon 2.3 miles of unused rail lines—land that’s slated to be used for an extension of the 61.5-mile Silver Comet Trail.

State Rep. Teri Anulewicz, D-Smyrna, told the Courier in a statement the deal could be “the critical first step in connecting the Comet and the Beltline.”

That’s big news for advocacy group Connect the Comet, which for 10 years has been lobbying to see the Cobb County part of the trail linked with Atlanta’s multi-use loop to-be.

A photo of the Beltline trail
The Beltline’s Buckhead segment.
Jonathan Phillips, Curbed Atlanta

Connecting the Silver Comet Trail with the Beltline would also mean cyclists—or really ambitious pedestrians—could travel from downtown Atlanta to Alabama without leaving a paved path.

The 2.3 miles in question would certainly help the Silver Comet’s chances of meeting the Beltline’s future northwestern edge, although another 4.3-mile stretch of old CSX railroad tracks would still stand between the trails.

Advocates are hoping the state will push hard to acquire that additional railroad land, the newspaper reports.

The lease agreement, which officially begins at the beginning of 2020, also grants the state the right to build and operate passenger rail lines in the future.