Atlanta BeltLine plans bike lanes, sidewalks, park near Ponce City Market

By David Pendered

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. proposes to upgrade the area near Ponce City Market with a new park, the addition or improvement of amenities for bicyclists and pedestrians along Ponce de Leon Avenue, and five new traffic signals along North Avenue.

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. plans to spend $2.4 million to add bicycle lanes, improve sidewalks, and build a park near Ponce City Market. Credit:

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. plans to spend $2.4 million to add bicycle lanes, improve sidewalks, and build a park near Ponce City Market. Credit:

The three groups of projects total $2.4 million. They are part of the $8.8 million the BeltLine proposes to spend on transit and transportation programs. The money is included in the overall budget proposal of $62.1 million.

Invest Atlanta, the city’s development arm that’s chaired by Mayor Kasim Reed, is slated to approve the BeltLine’s budget Thursday. A committee of Invest Atlanta already has given a green light to the budget proposal.

Here’s a snapshot of the proposed spending. Renderings can be viewed in the proposed budget:

  • Ponce de Leon Avenue, Complete Streets – $1,287,183.
  • North Avenue Plaza – $875,400.
  • North Avenue traffic signal upgrades – $230,000.

Ponce City Market has become an emblem of the potential for the renewal of Atlanta’s urban core that’s created by completion of the BeltLine’s network of trails. The old Sears, Roebuck & Co. building is adjacent to the Eastside Trail and is being restored by Jamestown Properties into a collection of restaurants, shops, offices, and residences.

North Avenue Plaza is intended to improve the aesthetics of the BeltLine's Eastside Trail as it passes Ponce City Market. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., via

North Avenue Plaza is intended to improve the aesthetics of the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail as it passes Ponce City Market. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., via

The North Avenue Plaza is to be built in a partnership with Jamestown Properties along the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail. It will abut Ponce City Market, between the market and Kroger shopping center.

The BeltLine hosted a community meeting with the contractor on May 21. Construction of the park is to be complete this autumn.

The plaza is to improve the aesthetics of the Eastside Trail as it climbs, from the south, toward the bridge that passes above Ponce de Leon Avenue.

The park is to have a natural grass meadow between the trail and the market’s shed building and boiler building. Immediately adjacent to the buildings, a bio-retention area is to be constructed.

The trail is quite a distance above Ponce City Market. A set of stairs and elevators is planned to provide access between the market to the trail.

The Complete Streets project along Ponce de Leon is slated to add two bike lanes and improve sidewalks near Ponce City Market. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. via

The Complete Streets project along Ponce de Leon is slated to add two bike lanes and improve sidewalks near Ponce City Market. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. via

The Complete Streets project along Ponce de Leon Avenue is to be built from Boulevard to Freedom Parkway. This project is being built in partnership with Jamestown Properties and the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The project is to be finished by June 30, 2018.

The next steps to be taken include acquiring the right of way to provide sidewalks, a buffer zone between the sidewalk and street with furniture to protect walkers from errant vehicles, and bicycle lanes.

This is how the roadway is to be developed:

  • Two lanes heading east and two lanes heading west, each about 10 feet wide.
  • One turn lane in the center of the road, about 11 feet wide.
  • A bike lane on each side of the road, about 5 feet wide.
  • A buffer zone, about 5 feet wide, with trees and street furniture, such as benches and lamps.
  • A sidewalk on each side, varying in width from 5 feet to 7 feet.

The signal upgrades along North Avenue are to be complete by June 30, 2016. The signals are along the stretch of roadway from Hunt Street to Freedom Parkway.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 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.

17 replies
  1. Avatar
    Nicole Seekely says:

    I'm a little disappointed to see the Complete Streets program on Ponce not include better measures for cyclists. Both how it currently is constructed and what is planned is not safe for cyclists on Ponce. There needs to be a literal buffer/curb/planting zone separating the cars from the bikes.Report

  2. Avatar
    Chad Carlson says:

    I agree. It was so refreshing to be in Boston this past weekend where most streets have designated bike lanes and when there are not, bikes have the right of way in the main lane of traffic. I rode around all weekend in traffic lanes and was never once honked at.Report

  3. Avatar
    Clay Walker says:

    I think until Atlanta law enforcement actually starts citing motorists for unsafe passing of cyclists, we are not going to have a city in which it is safe for cyclists to ride in, regardless of the lanes that are created to ride on. I ride about about 6000 miles a year on Atlanta streets and I probably have at least 3 life threatening moments every time I go out to ride due to unsafe passing by motorists. I can't imagine someone new to cycling would keep going out again to ride after the first occurrence. The 3' passing law has been in place in Georgia for several years now . I would challenge anyone to provide statistics showing that even 1 motorist has been cited for this (not counting when a motorist has hit a cyclist and then cited. ). Georgia also needs a hands free phone law and it needs to be enforced as well. Ironically the last time I was hit by a car while on my bike, I was in pedestrian lane crossing the street with a green light and struck by an off duty police officer who was talking on their cell phone and ran through their red light and struck me.Report

  4. Avatar
    JordanStreiff says:

    why not put the green buffer zone between bikes and cars? seems like a missed opportunity for separated bike infrastructureReport

  5. Avatar
    Lisa Safstrom says:

    I love the Ponce bike lanes, use them every day. They really expanded options for people to bike to destinations. Now extending to the Freedom Pkwy path will open a whole new route to travel west/east across town. Also can't wait for the stairs to the Beltline.Report

  6. Avatar
    Chad Carlson says:

    GDOT's mission statement: "Georgia DOT provides a safe, connected, and environmentally sensitive transportation system that enhances Georgia's economic competitiveness by working efficiently and communicating effectively to create strong partnerships."Report

  7. Avatar
    Carl Holt says:

    For too long the city of Atlanta has put suburban commuters above it's residents, a project like this will correct that wrong and create a complete street. It will have a positive impact of the QOL for those residents living in the city.Report

  8. Avatar
    Lisa Safstrom says:

    Suzanne Pesterfield- The Beltline's job is certainly not to 'maximize positive auto traffic flow' with this project or any others. Their 'job' is to create and support transportation options, sustainable to the extent possible. They're literally tasked with implementing bike/walk trails and transit, along with greenspace, and creating environments that support economic development. Which they are doing. I've literally not ever seen anything that says their job is to facilitate fast traffic flow. I wonder what Ryan Gravel would say to that. 🙂Report

  9. Avatar
    dwpendered says:

    letmesaythis Thanks for noting the small size of the renderings. Larger versions are available in the proposed budget; scroll to the section on transit and transportation projects. The story has been updated to provide a link to the proposed budget. The renderings on this page are the largest available at this time. Best regards, DavidReport

  10. Avatar
    Ryan Gravel says:

    Thanks Lisa – I think the role of the public realm is to improve the lives of people. Sometimes that means improved auto flow, but the priority has to be people. Fortunately, we've learned a lot of lessons about cars and are starting to mitigate with projects exactly like this. Thanks, Atlanta Beltline and GDOT!Report

  11. Avatar
    urban gardener says:

    I enjoy being gridlocked on Ponce at odd times of the day and never seeing a cyclist… And I don't dare leave home during rush hours. What is the average cyclist use count on the existing Ponce lanes, and what's Ponce's current carrying count?
    As far as GDOT goes, they have been completely unwilling to work with the City on the re-development of Memorial Drive; they have their set rules for State hwys and that's just that. The mission is to move cars, always has been, always will be; on Memorial their rules restrict access to the hwy to force all ingress and egress via side streets – no curb cuts onto the hwy. Moves traffic faster/unimpeded, and forces more onto residential side streets.
    I also like the 'create a park' out of already-open space given the pending sale and demolition of 1.5acres of mature trees / woodland along Piedmont Park. Two new large midrise developments ought to do wonders for Monroe Drive, just in time for additional lane reductions there.Report


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