Mayor Kasim Reed will lead the official dedication of the Atlanta BeltLine's most significant step forward yet: the opening of the Eastside Trail on Monday, Oct. 15 at 10 a.m. at the intersection of the Atlanta BeltLine corridor and the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, located at 830 Willoughby Way.
"The opening of the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail will be a revelation for Atlantans who can traverse their city, neighborhood-to-neighborhood in unprecedented fashion," said Mayor Reed in a press release. "This world-class public space is the result of great public-private partnerships. It creates new mobility options, lays the foundation for transit along the Atlanta BeltLine, promises improved health and enhanced neighborhoods, and is already spurring sustainable economic growth and development."
One of the most eagerly-awaited public spaces in Atlanta, the new 2.25-mile long section of the Atlanta BeltLine, running from Irwin St. to 10th St. and Monroe Dr., connects the neighborhoods of Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Midtown, Poncey Highland and Virginia Highland. It contains a 14-foot wide concrete trail and 30 acres of landscaped greenspace, including spaces for both public art and naturalistically designed exercise station.
This section of trail also connects Piedmont Park to Freedom Park and Historic Fourth Ward Park and Skatepark - and connects to the PATH Foundation trail running from Stone Mountain to downtown. The completion of the Eastside Trail combined with the first two trails on the Atlanta BeltLine - the West End Trail and the Northside Trail - brings the total of permanent trails to nearly six miles along and near the corridor.
This is the first phase of development for a corridor which will eventually contain all of the elements of the Atlanta BeltLine vision – pedestrian-friendly transit, a multi-use trail, greenspace and connectivity with surrounding developments and neighborhoods. This is also the first section of the old rail corridor to be developed.
As part of the project, significant underground infrastructure was installed before work on the trail itself began. This work included a utility duct bank that will help carry power for lighting and transit as well as current and future utilities that use the corridor; retaining walls to maintain the width of the corridor for both transit and trails; the installation of a new bridge for the trail over Ralph McGill Blvd, and the remediation and rehabilitation of the historic rail bridge over Ponce de Leon Ave.
Since 2006, there has been more than $775 million in new private development either completed or underway within a half mile of this section of the Atlanta BeltLine.
This phase of construction was made possible by partnerships between the Atlanta BeltLine, the City of Atlanta, Invest Atlanta, and private donors Kaiser Permanente Georgia, Sarah and Jim Kennedy/PATH Foundation and Trees Atlanta. The PATH Foundation serves as construction manager for this project and Astra Group is the contractor. Trees Atlanta is funding and supervising the planting of new trees and native grasslands, as well as creating the Docent and “Urban Tree Trackers” programs for the Atlanta BeltLine Arboretum.
Sarah and Jim Kennedy, through the PATH Foundation, and Kaiser Permanente Georgia, each donated $2.5 million to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership Capital Campaign to support the construction of the Eastside Trail. Approximately $5.5 million of Atlanta BeltLine TAD funding was invested in construction and development; Trees Atlanta also contributed an additional $750,000 to support the cost of the arboretum. TAD funding comes through Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. from Invest Atlanta, the redevelopment agent for the City of Atlanta.
In addition, $850,000 was provided from an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revolving loan fund for remediation of the site before construction commenced. EPA and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division of the Department of Natural Resources partnered with ABI to ensure proper environmental cleanup of the former industrial freight rail corridor. Approximately 1,700 tons of contaminated soil was removed for the development of this corridor.
The Eastside Trail is currently being featured as part of the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibit, which kicked off on September 8 and ends on November 11. In addition, the trail will be part of the route for the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside 10K on December 1. During October, crews will still be putting finishing touches on sections of the trail, including intersection improvements, hand rails, retaining walls and slope containment. Landscaping will begin in mid-fall with the planting of new trees. Landscaping will continue into the spring with the planting of native species of flora.
More than 100,000 people live within half a mile of the Atlanta BeltLine, which connects 45 of the city's neighborhoods. According to a Health Impact Assessment conducted by the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2007, the Atlanta BeltLine’s 1,300 acres of parks, 33 miles of trails, $45 million in streetscape and intersection improvements, and the expansion of transit creates the opportunity for vulnerable populations to become physically active. The redevelopment will give 11,000 residents direct access for the first time to a park, and it will connect an additional 127,000 people to transit. As a result, it will improve access to employment opportunities, services, healthy foods, and recreational facilities.