Atlanta BeltLine: Westside Trail advances as city agrees to accept $18 million from US DOT

By David Pendered

The Atlanta City Council has authorized Mayor Kasim Reed to take the steps necessary to accept $18 million in federal funding for the Atlanta BeltLine’s Westside Trail.

Construction of the Southwest Trail could begin next summer, now that the Atlanta City Council has authorized the mayor to accept $18 million in federal funding. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine Inc. via clatl.com

Construction of the Westside Trail could begin next summer, now that the Atlanta City Council has authorized the mayor to accept $18 million in federal funding. Credit: Atlanta BeltLine Inc. via clatl.com

This TIGER V grant to the BeltLine was announced Sept. 9. The city council’s action is a mere formality, but one that’s required in order for Atlanta to assure the federal government it will comply with rules regarding the use of funds.

Councilmember Aaron Watson introduced the paper at the end of the council’s meeting Monday, as the final legislative act of his term. The funding will enable construction to begin in 2014, possibly as early as the summer.

Watson’s paper included language that harkens back to the early days of the BeltLine, in 2005, when it was little more than a vision for guiding intown development along a planned network of transit and trails to be built in an out-of-service rail corridor:

  • “WHEREAS, FY 2013 TIGER Discretionary Grant funds will be used for construction of 2.5 miles of the 22-mile-long Atlanta BeltLine corridor, a system of trails, transit and parks circling downtown Atlanta and connecting more than 45 communities through the city and region; and
  • “WHEREAS, this project will provide connections to bus routes, rail stations, schools, parks, and other recreational activities and includes constructing a new shared-use trail segment with accessibility improvements to cross streets….”

The federal grant will help pay for a project now budgeted at $43 million, according to a statement the BeltLine released in September. The trail’s name has been updated as construction nears; it  formerly had been known by its working name, Southwest Corridor Trail.

An existing BeltLine trail in southwest Atlanta passes through some scenic areas, as seen in this photo from April 2010. Credit: David Pendered

An existing BeltLine trail in southwest Atlanta passes through some scenic areas, as seen in this photo from April 2010. Credit: David Pendered

The Westside Trail is to run between Washington Park and Allene Street. The BeltLine statement described the project as having:

  • “16 accessible points of entry with ADA-accessible ramps and stair systems at nine cross-streets, including Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Lee Street and Murphy Avenue. It includes a 14-foot wide concrete trail, two foot shoulders and landscaping associated with the greenway corridor. Lighting, utilities, significant retaining wall infrastructure, security cameras and signage also will be constructed as part of the project. Modern streetcar transit is planned for a future stage of this corridor’s development.”

The exacting route provided in the statement is is:

  • From Allene Avenue north to Lawton Street;
  • Transition to the West End Trail for a few blocks;
  • Return to the rail corridor near Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard and continue to Washington Park, where it will end at the existing Westside Trail.

Watson’s paper is the follow-up to legislation the council approved June 3, which authorized the mayor to apply for the TIGER V grant. The paper stated that the required local match for the federal funding was to be provided through “partner foundations and organizations.”

The legislation was introduced by Watson and councilmembers Keisha Lance Bottoms and H. Lamar Willis.

Bottoms was reelected in the Nov. 5 election. Watson and Willis were defeated.

 

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.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

What are your thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.