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Photos: Breaking down Beltline construction between Midtown and Buckhead

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Officials: For the first time in Beltline history, three major trail sections will soon be under construction at once

A former railroad corridor trail section with houses and tree at right, and a golf course at left.
The Beltline trail under construction between Ansley Golf Course, left, and Piedmont Heights, where a Grady High School student recently painted the mural at right.
Photography by Curbed Atlanta

This upcoming winter could be a memorable one for construction of new Beltline pieces in three disparate parts of town, with a section that’s planned to eventually link Midtown with Buckhead leading the way.

The Beltline’s Eastside Trail wrapped construction in July after nearly seven years, and the focus of new trail-building is shifting to just north of that popular stretch right now.

As Beltline officials explained in further detail this week, Georgia Power is well underway with building a maintenance access road that will double as a portion of the Northeast Trail, running in between Ansley Golf Club and neighborhoods such as Piedmont Heights.

Fences have been installed to block patrons of the former interim trail, as the power company begins paving about two-thirds of a mile between the backside of Ansley Mall and the Buford Spring Connector, next to Interstate 85.

That stretch (and farther south, to Piedmont Park) is now considered closed for safety reasons, and trespassing could delay construction, officials said this week.

Luckily, we were able to collect photos recently to illustrate where Beltline construction on this key segment is happening now—and how the Northeast Trail might extend connectivity across a broad ITP swath in coming years.

A graphic showing a Beltline segment in yellow and blue lines.
Georgia Power is handling paving for the middle segment of the Northeast Trail. The dotted blue sections will remain interim hiking trails for now, but the bottom link to Piedmont Park is closed.
Atlanta Beltline Inc.

Georgia Power is building a fourteen-foot-wide trail with stormwater systems and an access point at Montgomery Ferry Drive, a roadway that bridges over the trail and into the golf course. That’s scheduled to be finished by fall 2020.

Once that wraps, Beltline officials will turn focus toward identifying funding for “follow-up work”—security cameras, lighting, landscaping, and more—to complete the full Northeast Trail.

All told, the trail will stretch between Westminster Drive (near Orpheus Brewing, at Piedmont Park’s northernmost point) and Mayson Street (near the Amour Ottley district, just south of Lindbergh).

Designs for those northern and southern segments, like an eventual connection to the Lindbergh MARTA Station, are being analyzed and tweaked.

A rickety older bridge over a creek with trees on all sides.
An interim bridge installed several years ago over Clear Creek, near Ansley Mall.
A green golf course at left and a gravel trail with fencing between.
Where the under-construction trail borders the golf course. At a recent meeting, a Beltline landscape architect said more evergreen trees could be planted—and protective netting installed, in a joint effort with the golf club—to help protect Northeast Trail patrons.
An old bridge with kudzu covered trees at left and a highway below.
Crossing an old bridge over the Buford Spring Connector.
A tunnel with graffiti beneath a huge highway.
And beneath Interstate 85, just south of the section that collapsed in 2017.
A variety of murals beneath a huge interstate in Atlanta.
A variety of murals decorate the underbelly of the interstate and its ramps.
A large beer brewing facility and many active rail lines.
Heading left from under the Buford Spring Connector reveals many active rail lines and SweetWater Brewing Company. Mason Street is to the right of this point, where the interim trail ends for now.

At the risk of venturing neck-deep into the weeds, this point provides an opportunity for weighing options on how the Beltline might extend beyond Mason Street and connect in coming years with the Lindbergh area—and with Buckhead’s nearby PATH400, a means of getting to Lenox Square and points north without using busy roads.

Beltline officials have narrowed down two possible alignments and are currently studying both. The so-called Alignment B wends through the Armour Ottley industrial area.

A rendering of various routes the Beltline could take to Buckhead.
The black-dotted line shows where the Beltline loop could be closed, eventually, at the northernmost point in Buckhead.
Courtesy of Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The alternative, Alignment E, basically parallels the eastern side of MARTA rail’s existing alignment up to Lindbergh.

An overview of options for building out the Beltline in Buckhead.
This alignment would opt for a route generally closer to Piedmont Road.
Courtesy of Atlanta Beltline Inc.
A graffiti-strewn tunnel beneath and interstate in Atlanta.
Turning back toward Midtown, another unused tunnel beneath the interstate is near SweetWater’s facilities.
A bridge spanning a gravel biking trail with a bike parked beside it.
Getting closer to Ansley Mall and Piedmont Park, the Montgomery Ferry Drive bridge crosses the trail. An access point to the street above should be open next fall, officials say.
A shopping center at left and many trees ahead, all around.
The southernmost trail section, with access at left to shops and bars near Ansley Mall, will remain unpaved for now. The northern fringes of Piedmont Park are just ahead from here, through the woods and under the Piedmont Avenue bridge.
A parking lot with many cars and low shopping centers on both sides.
The parking lot at Ansley Square Shopping Center allows for a direct connection to the interim Beltline.

Beyond the Northeast Trail, two more Beltline segments are expected to launch construction in the next few months.

One project is the Southside Trail’s initial $16 million piece, which will extend off the Westside Trail’s southern terminus in Adair Park and bend three-quarters of a mile toward the Downtown Connector, near Pittsburgh Yards.

The other is the Westside Beltline Connector, to be built by the PATH Foundation, whose executive director recently told Curbed Atlanta that construction should begin in coming weeks near Georgia World Congress Center and continue through next year.

Beltline officials—who’ve caught flak for years from Atlanta urbanists frustrated with sluggish trail construction—noted in press release Monday: “This will be the first time in Beltline history that three major trail projects will be underway at one time.”