Going South: Atlanta BeltLine opens interim Southside Trail, paving to begin soon

The concrete is barely dry on the final segment of the Eastside Trail, but the Atlanta BeltLine is ready to head south.

The 4-mile Southside Trail is officially open for use in its interim condition. The interim trail remains unpaved but does include regrading of gravel in the former rail corridor, access to 11 public streets, environmental remediation, bolstered bridges, crosswalks in at-grade crossings with appropriate signage and signalization, and lighting in tunnels.

The interim Southside Trail is accessible from Glenwood Avenue (ADA accessible), Mercer Street, Lynwood Street, United Avenue, Boulevard, Hill Street, Milton Avenue (ADA accessible), Carver High School, Pryor Road, Metropolitan Avenue and Sylvan Road (ADA accessible).

The opening of the interim trail was funded through contributions to the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s Opening the Corridor capital campaign, including a lead gift from The Coca-Cola Foundation and major contributions from The Home Depot Foundation, The Delta Air Lines Foundation, the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership’s board of directors, and property owners along the BeltLine.

Programming along the Southside Trail begins this fall with free bike and walking tours, free group runs, and fitness classes. Learn more about these programs at beltline.org.

Courtesy Atlanta BeltLine Inc.

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI) has announced that it has funding for the first 0.750-mile paved segment of the Southside Trail, which will stretch from the southern terminus of the Westside Trail at University Avenue to the Annie E. Casey Foundation site at Pittsburgh Yards, just west of the I-75/85 overpass. BeltLine officials said they chose to begin there because of three open and emerging job centers at Pittsburgh Yards, Murphy Crossing and the Lee + White development.

“We are thrilled at this opportunity to invest in communities in south and southwest Atlanta and to spur economic investment between key developing job centers,” said Clyde Higgs, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “We look forward to building on this initial segment to connect the Atlanta BeltLine to all neighborhoods and businesses in the southern crescent.”

At a July community meeting, ABI outline plans for the four-mile Southside Trail, which will extend from the Westside Trail at University Avenue to the Eastside Trail at Memorial Drive. Officials said they anticipate completing pre-construction design and real estate acquisitions for the entire four-mile length of the 14-foot paved multi-use trail over the next several months.

The build-out of first 0.75 mile segment, currently known as Southside Trail–West, will have ADA-accessible access points at Allene Avenue and Metropolitan Parkway with appropriate crosswalks and signalization, environmental remediation of the corridor, lights, security cameras, utility relocations, storm water drainage, retention walls, and full landscaping. Construction of this first segment is slated to begin fall of 2019 and expected to take approximately 12 months to complete. ABI plans additional community meetings during the construction process.

Plans are also in the works to create interim trail connection between the Southside and Eastside Trails along Bill Kennedy Way. ABI is also partnering with the City of Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Transportation to create a 10-foot-wide path over I-20, protected from vehicular traffic by a concrete barrier. Between I-20 and Glenwood Avenue, the continuation of the 10-foot-wide path would be protected from vehicular traffic by a low, planted median. These interim improvements are expected to be complete by mid-2020. A wide trail that runs along the nearly-complete Madison Yards development from I-20 to Memorial Drive is already in place.

While the Southside Trail is about to get underway, funding is still being sought to complete paving of all the segments. The City of Atlanta applied for a $16 million federal BUILD Grant in July on behalf of ABI, which combined with local funds would allow construction to begin on 1.5 miles of the Southside Trail-East from I-20 over Bill Kennedy Way to Boulevard. The funding would also support the construction of a new pedestrian bridge over I-20 alongside Bill Kennedy Way. If ABI gets the BUILD grant, construction would begin in late 2021.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley is the editor of Atlanta Intown.