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Beltline secures builder for Southside Trail, funding to start light rail elsewhere

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Significant changes are in store for the proposed multi-use loop in 2020

A photo and a rendering of what the Beltline would look like with light rail.
An early rendering shows what rail along the trail could look like.
Atlanta Development Authority

Tuesday evening’s Atlanta Beltline community meeting brought news of big wins for the multi-use trail project and the city’s transit advocates.

During 2019’s final quarterly briefing, held at Atlanta Technical College, Beltline CEO Clyde Higgs and Atlanta City Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd announced that a contractor has been secured for part of the Southside Trail’s construction.

The Beltline is bringing aboard Astra Group Inc., a firm that’s worked on other parts of the trail project, to build out the path between University Avenue and Pittsburgh Yards.

The news comes just weeks after Beltline leaders learned the project had been turned down for a $16 million federal grant that would have propelled construction of the easternmost part of the Southside Trail. That is, a 1.5-mile leg that would have run from the north side of Interstate 20, over Bill Kennedy Way, down to Boulevard.

Beltline officials have not responded to Curbed Atlanta’s inquiries regarding how being denied the BUILD grant could impact the project’s timeline.

A map shows the plans for the Southside Trail.
The Southside Trail’s initial paved segment (in red) is planned to branch off the existing Westside Trail soon, while federal grant money would have been aimed at the orange segment.
Image courtesy of Atlanta Beltline

Tuesday’s meeting also revealed that the Beltline had secured $2.8 million to “advance the extension of light rail transit to the Westside Trail and to the Eastside Trail at Ponce de Leon Avenue,” according to a tweet from project officials.

A Beltline spokesperson has yet to respond today to Curbed’s requests for more details about how exactly that money will be spent, and this story will be updated as we receive word.