Apr 21, 2022 - News

Beltline can finish trails and housing by 2030, officials say

Jon Ossoff addresses reporters on the Beltline as a jogger runs in the background

Photo: Thomas Wheatley/Axios

An all-out effort to generate funding and win federal and philanthropic cash has put the Beltline on track to be finished on schedule by 2030, project officials say.

Driving the news: Wednesday, Sen. Jon Ossoff met with Beltline CEO Clyde Higgs, members of the Atlanta City Council and community leaders to discuss the $5 million in funding he recently secured to keep building out the Beltline’s Southside Trail.

This funding adds to the $16 million that Ossoff and fellow Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock secured for the Southside Trail in November.

  • Last March, the Atlanta City Council approved the creation of a special funding district that raises money to build out the trail.
“The last 12 to 18 months have been the most spectacular period in Beltline history. From the funding perspective, affordable housing perspective, this has been our time.”
Clyde Higgs, CEO of Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The big picture: If everything goes according to plan, a bicyclist could enjoy a safe and relatively seamless bike ride from Washington Park in West Atlanta to Piedmont Park in Midtown. Then they can head to north Atlanta up Path 400.

What we're watching: Paving the Beltline’s northwest segment in Buckhead is all that stands between completing the full loop. That segment, however, is the most challenging.

  • Unlike the Eastside, Southside and Westside trails, the Beltline doesn't own the rail bed in northwest Atlanta — it's an active freight line and will likely stay that way.
  • Trail planners must plot a feasible route where possible — which requires property purchases, community outreach and clever design.

What they’re saying: “This is the first time in history that we’ve had the line of sight to be able to finish this project by 2030,” Higgs says.

Of note: The planned 33-mile trail network draws millions of people every year, infuses culture and creativity in the city, and links Atlanta’s pockets of neighborhoods. It also contributes to rising home prices and rents, putting communities — particularly renters living on low incomes — at risk of displacement.

As Higgs noted Wednesday, the Beltline is also supposed to create 5,600 units of affordable housing before 2030. Winning federal funding, Higgs said, allows project officials to reallocate funds they’d initially earmarked for trail construction to areas like affordable units.


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