Buckhead Trail to move ahead with design/build agreement with GDOT

By David Pendered

Atlanta made a final step Wednesday, perhaps the conclusive one in terms of creating needed bureaucracy, in the journey to build a new park system along Ga. 400 in Buckhead at minimal public expense.

Buckhead Trail redux

This scene is the type envisioned for the Buckhead Trail. File credit: Livable Buckhead, Inc.

A proposal that formally brings Georgia’s Department of Transportation into the design and construction of the planned Ga. 400 Greenway Trail was approved unanimously by the Utilities Committee of the Atlanta City Council. The council is expected to approve the deal at its Feb. 4 meeting.

Hopes for the trail are high: “This project has the chance to be an example of inventive use of space that people will fly in to see,” Atlanta Councilman Howard Shook said Wednesday evening.

The resolution the committee approved creates the legal framework for GDOT to handle design and construction services for the Greenway Trail, which is also known as the Buckhead Trail.

GDOT is playing an integral role in the creation of this park for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that portions are to be built in unused right-of-way beside and beneath Ga. 400.

GDOT gave the project a big boost last year, when its board approved a resolution that calls for transit and multi-use trails to be included in all managed lane projects.

Gov. Nathan Deal stepped in to assist last summer. The governor provided $750,000 for the trail from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The Legislature created the bank in 2008, and it’s administered by the State Road and Tollway Authority – the entity that manages Ga. 400 – and which is chaired by the governor.

Terms of the deal approved Tuesday by the Utilities Committee call for GDOT to have the oversight role and for the city to pay for the project’s design and construction. The city agrees to maintain the trail once it’s open.

The financial partner of record named in the terms is the Buckhead Community Improvement District. The group actually handling the daily chores is Livable Buckhead, a non-profit organization created to improve the environment in the Buckhead area.

The Bucks on the Street program raised more than $20,000 for Livable Buckhead's greenspace efforts. Credit: Livable Buckhead, Inc.

The Bucks on the Street program raised more than $20,000 for Livable Buckhead’s greenspace efforts. Credit: Livable Buckhead, Inc.

Livable Buckhead is raising money for the project from a variety of sources.

One of them is the Bucks on the Street, which Livable Buckhead announced last week raised $20,000 for greenspace work. To raise money, local businesses sponsored buck, whichwere were decorated during the holiday season. The program concluded with an online auction in December. All the bucks were sold.

The agreement notes that “time is of the essence.” Both the city and GDOT agree to comply with the timeline contained in the region’s Transportation Improvement Program.

If the city can’t hold up its end of the bargain, in terms of providing money or right-of-way, GDOT retains the right until funds can be identified to continue with right-of-way acquisition or construction, according to the terms.

The Buckhead Trail is to be a concrete pathway stretching about five miles with a width of 8 feet to 14 feet. The goal is for it to stretch from a cemetery off Loridans Drive in North Buckhead to the planned Peachtree Creek spur of the BeltLine, near MARTA’s Lindbergh Station.

The path will be open for use by runners, walkers, bicyclists and skaters.

 

About David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with nearly 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.
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6 comments
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Bob Munger
Bob Munger

It sounds to me like the trail may be missing an opportunity to incorporate low speed electric vehicles, which would be a shame. Peachtree City's multipurpose trails have proven that this can work, thereby providing a secondary mode of clean and quiet electromechancal transport, which reduces dependence on internal combustion automobile, reduces foreign oil imports, keeps transport dollars in the local economy, reduces air pollution and lowers the city's carbon footprint.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

The Georgia Department of Transportation should have never destroyed parts of Buckhead and North Atlanta to build the Georgia 400 Extension in the first place.

 

If the Georgia 400 Extension was ever to have been built, the expressway and the accompanying MARTA heavy rail line should have been built below ground as a tunnel between Sidney Marcus Blvd just north of I-85 and Johnson Ferry Road just south of I-285.

 

Attempting to build a "greenway trail" beside Georgia 400 is at the very, very least decent first step in attempting to establish or reclaim some of the greenspace lost and make a minutely-small amends for the irreparable harm done to the community with the construction of the GA 400 Extension through one of the metro area's most vibrant neighborhoods.

 

Though I can envision the day, hopefully in the not-too-distant future, when Georgia 400 and its accompanying heavy rail transit line are tunneled underground and the surface right-of-way is reclaimed as greenspace in the form of a linear park.

Cementisnotgreenspace
Cementisnotgreenspace

I guess Howard Shook thinks we are going to get Atlanta out of a financial mess because people are going to "fly in" to see the trail. SInce this international attraction is in my backyard, aren't I entitled to some of the money the City will be getting fom the increaed tourism?

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

"Atlanta made a final step Wednesday, perhaps the conclusive one in terms of creating needed bureaucracy..."

 

Atlanta needs more bureaucracy? And Atlanta needs GDOT to add more bureaucracy to building parks and trails?

Thanks, David - I needed a laugh today.

Cementisnotgreenspace
Cementisnotgreenspace

@Bob Munger All Liveable Buckhead and the Atlanta city council care about is money, and I bet a whole lot of federal and state dollars will follow this trail.

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