Apr 24, 2024 - Transit

Beltline trail openings will meet World Cup deadline

A map of the Beltline with green lines marking where completed trails will be by 2026. Nearly the entire trail system will be complete.

Green lines mark completed Beltline trails. Dotted lines are planned paved paths. Credit: Atlanta Beltline

Beltline bicyclists will be able to pedal from Piedmont Park all the way to Westside Park before the 2026 World Cup, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said Wednesday.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of soccer fans will descend on Atlanta in the summer of 2026. Public, private and civic leaders are accelerating projects to meet the deadline and capitalize on the crowds.

Zoom in: Work on the Southside Trail will be complete in the first quarter of 2026, Beltline CEO Clyde Higgs said during an Eastside Trail press conference Wednesday with the mayor and President Biden adviser Tom Perez.

  • Once complete, the segments will connect roughly 18 miles of the Beltline's trail network to create a J shape, leaving only a gap where the paved path will weave through Buckhead in northwest Atlanta.

The big picture: Higgs said the Beltline's trail system is on schedule to finish construction by 2030. In January 2022, Higgs said the project had secured $300 million of the $350 million needed to finish the trails.

  • Federal funding is playing a key role in the progress, officials said.

The intrigue: Dickens told Axios that rising construction costs and technological changes have made him less gung-ho about Beltline rail and more open to alternate modes of transit along the project.

  • MARTA is currently designing how the Downtown streetcar could expand to the Eastside Trail and north to Ponce City Market.
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