As backhoes broke ground in Southwest Atlanta to kick off construction of the Beltline’s Southside Trail—one part of it, at least—one couldn’t help but wonder when the project’s southernmost crescent might connect with its eastside counterpart.
Under construction since last week is what’s called Southside Trail-West, which is expected to run east from the southern terminus of the existing Westside Trail parallel to University Avenue, almost to Interstate 75/85.
The Southside Trail opened as an interim hiking trail in August, and this first paved, 0.75-mile section is expected to link emerging mixed-use jobs hubs Pittsburgh Yards, Murphy Crossing, Lee + White, and The MET.
Construction of the 14-foot-wide path is projected to take about a year, Beltline officials say.
Project leaders also hope the Southside Trail, which is ultimately expected to snake 4.5 miles from the Westside Trail to Glenwood Avenue in Ormewood Park, will proved new opportunities for affordable housing creation—a mission that fell short along the popular Eastside Trail.
Estimated to cost some $70 million when complete, the Southside Trail still awaits funding for its other segments.
Beltline spokeswoman Jenny Odom said she didn’t have any financing news to share at press time, but that officials are still actively seeking funding sources.
Project leaders learned in November they’d been turned down for a $16 million federal grant that would have supported construction of the easternmost part of the Southside Trail, a 1.5-mile piece stretching from the north side of Interstate 20, over Bill Kennedy Way, down to Boulevard.
Beltline officials have not addressed Curbed Atlanta’s inquiries regarding what that setback could mean for the project timeline, although Odom said via email, “It is possible for [multiple] sections to be underway simultaneously. The sequencing of construction will depend on the type of funding in the future.”
Right now officials are organizing a plan for future construction, as they finalize the design and permitting phases.
Odom also said the project recently secured National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approval, which is “a milestone towards that [construction] goal.”
Southside Trail-West is being built by construction contractor Astra Group, a firm that’s built other sections of the project.