With a scorching summer on the horizon, the Atlanta Beltline is soon to be crammed with sweaty locals, wide-eyed tourists, cats, dogs, and Bird scooters—as if it isn’t already.
Thankfully, in coming months—and years—more of the paved multi-use path will begin to, well, exist.
It’d be naive to assume that more Beltline means more elbow room, but pieces of the loop are slated to be accessible soon in areas that aren’t (yet) as congested and hyper-developed as the original leg of the Eastside Trail.
Take, for example, the Eastside Trail extension that runs through Reynoldstown, from DeKalb Avenue to Memorial Drive.
The northern stretch of that piece of the proposed 22-mile loop is already open, running through a residential area dotted with quaint single-family homes, industrial properties, and more public art than a critic could digest in a day.
Beltline officials confirmed to Curbed Atlanta this week the southernmost stretch of the Eastside Trail, between Kirkwood Avenue and bustling Memorial Drive, is on track to open next month.
That means, come June, Atlantans will be able to walk, bike, or scoot from Piedmont Park to Golden Eagle—about a four-mile trip—without leaving the trail.
Beltline officials had previously told Curbed the crucial Memorial Drive connection was on hold, awaiting permits from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Those plans have changed.
Said Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom: “We just decided to go ahead and finish the [pedestrian] plaza” and connect the trail to the intersection of Memorial and Bill Kennedy Way.
“We were going to try to wait and do the roadwork at the same time, but we’re just going to go ahead,” she said, noting that the roadwork will commence sometime later. “It got complicated and took too long. There comes a point where we just gotta keep things moving.”
And then there’s the much-anticipated Southside Trail.
“Progress is happening,” Odom said. “Stairs have been in, hand rails have been going in. There’s still a little more work to do in terms of securing the bridges and rough grading, but we’re moving forward.”
In coming weeks, the Southside Trail will officially debut as an interim hiking trail.
Photos captured by John Becker, the Atlanta Beltline Partnership’s engagement coordinator, show that all railroad tracks are gone and the once-overgrown and polluted corridor now looks rather inviting.
Design and fundraising efforts for the potentially $70 million Southside Trail are underway, and a project to grow the neighboring Boulevard Crossing Park by 20 acres is moving forward, too.
A community meeting planned tonight is meant to help jumpstart those efforts.
The Northeastern unknown
What’s happening with the Beltline’s Northeast Trail, however, is much less clear.
The project, which would snake the path from the north side of Piedmont Park all the way to the Lindbergh MARTA Station, is lumbering through real estate negotiations with Georgia Power, according to Odom.
Georgia Power had been relocating power lines in the area and is now ironing out the details of an agreement with the Beltline that would allow the utility to finish its work and the Northeast Trail project to move forward.
“We are working with ABI to identify next steps, which could include some paving that would serve the needs of both trail users and company crews requiring access for routine and emergency maintenance,” Georgia Power spokesman Craig Bell told Curbed.
Beltline officials said they’re not ready to announce a timeline for the Northeast Trail.