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Posted May 10, 2013 in Blog

If you’ve ever been in the busy Perimeter area near our northern Metro office around rush hour, you know that the traffic can sometimes be overwhelming. But a new project is underway that aims to take more cars off the road, put more green on the map, and encourage Atlantans to get outdoors and enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle. Combining transit, multi-purpose trails, parks and art, Atlanta’s Beltline promises much-needed relief from urban congestion.

In the works since 2006, the Beltline will include 22 miles of pedestrian trails, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of parks, plus affordable housing and cleaner, greener transit. The project encompasses 45 existing neighborhoods, from Sylvan Hills on the Southside to historic West End, up all the way to Brookwood Hills, then down through Lindbergh and Peachtree Hills to Grant Park, creating a “beltline” around the city. Along that line, a new light-rail or streetcar system will transport people with cleaner, greener technology. The planners envision that the increased quality of life (read short commute time!) enjoyed by residents will encourage smart development around the Beltline, with affordable housing, businesses, and services all locating nearby.

One of the main ideas behind the Atlanta Beltline project is to connect these often disparate parts of the city through continuous trails, paths, and parks. To date, three trails have been completed, some of them connecting existing trails. A large number of them are located on railbeds that had been in disuse for decades. With the grading and leveling already in place, these routes are ideal for bike and running paths.

The Beltline’s parks are gathering places that create a more neighborly feel. There are public art projects along the route, such as the mural “The West End Celebrates” by painter Malaika Favorite along the Westside Trail; the parks also feature works of art like the untitled stainless steel kinetic sculpture in D. H. Stanton Park by artist Robert Witherspoon. Three of the parks feature “splash pads” where kids can cool off on a hot summer day. The Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark is the first public skateboard park in Atlanta. Instead of starting the day fighting the traffic, imagine hopping on the quiet light rail for a short trip to work, then heading to a Beltline park after work for free music or a bike ride. The Beltline will bring a more manageable scale to the city, decreasing sprawl and adding those quality-of-life elements that so many seek in the city. Alongside the already-open Eastside Trail, local businesses report they feel safer and have more customers than ever before.

The Atlanta Beltline project will be completed piece-by-piece over the next 20 years. We’re excited to see the impact that it will have on the city. With less time spent in traffic and more time spent in the outdoors, we expect that there will be a lot more healthy and happy people around the city.

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