Negotiations with Georgia Power to facilitate some work of a segment of the Northeast Trail that would extend to Buckhead are still ongoing, but Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. said at a public meeting Feb. 15 that the segment could be completed by the end of 2020, which is earlier than originally expected.
ABI is at least two years away from beginning construction on the segment of the trail that would end at the Lindbergh MARTA Station.
The meeting, which was held in Rock Spring Presbyterian Church in Midtown near I-85, drew a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 people.
The Northeast Trail is part of the larger BeltLine plan, which proposes 33 miles of multi-use trails, a 22-mile streetcar route and 2,000 acres of parks. The Northeast Trail would be the second BeltLine trail to be built in Buckhead following the completed Northside Trail near Piedmont Hospital. The Eastside Trail in Midtown and Westside Trail have also opened.
The Northeast Trail runs from Monroe Drive, where the Eastside Trail ends, to the Lindbergh MARTA Station. For planning purposes, ABI has broken the four-mile trail into three sections: Monroe Drive to Westminster Drive; Westminster Drive to Mayson Street; and Mayson Street to the Lindbergh MARTA Station. The first section is entirely in Midtown. The second ends in Buckhead at Mayson Street near the Armour Yards development, and the third is entirely in Buckhead.
ABI’s goal is to finish design work on the entire Northeast Trail in two and half years, according to the presentation.
ABI estimates it will be at least two years before work on the Mayson Street to Lindbergh MARTA Station segment could begin. Design work is planned to start in June and would take 24 to 30 months. ABI is seeking federal funds to help pay for this segment, which can slow down the process, Katherine Owens, the BeltLine’s principal engineer for the project, said at the meeting.
“That really opens up some pretty significant connectivity we haven’t had,” she said.
The section from Westminster Drive to Mayson Street is the segment that was discussed in detail at a July 2017 meeting during which ABI revealed that it was in negotiations with Georgia Power to facilitate some work on the trail while it replaces power infrastructure parallel to the segment. It would pass through an existing tunnel under I-85 and enter Buckhead.
Having Georgia Power assist with some work would allow them to begin this segment of the Northeast Trail sooner than previously expected, Owens said.
“We have a really great oppurtunity to advance something we didn’t think would happen so quickly,” she said.
The design of this segment is almost complete, but it is being fine tuned and will be released to the public in about two weeks, Owens said.
Georgia Power will start clearing and grading the area this spring, will install the new power poles in the fall and complete the work in the spring of 2019. It can’t do this work during peak times for power usage in the summer and winter, Tony Rogers, a project manager at Georgia Power said.
Negotiations on what work Georgia Power will do for the BeltLine are still in the works, but ABI projects it could finish that segment of the BeltLine by the winter of 2020, depending on when it secures funding.
Design work for the Midtown section from Monroe Drive to Westminster Drive would also begin in June and last 12 to 18 months.
One resident said she is concerned the lack of sidewalks and the prevalence of damaged sidewalks in the Lindbergh area would be dangerous for the probable uptick in pedestrians in that area once that BeltLine segment has been built.
Shaun Green, a BeltLine engineer, said improving that infrastructure is a “critical aspect of this design work.”
Sally Flocks, the founder and CEO of advocacy group Pedestrians Educating Drivers on Safety, or PEDS, said she was happy to hear pedestrian infrastructure in that area is planned to be improved and said having more pedestrians will make it safer because cars will pay closer attention to them.
Several residents voiced concerns about what they believe to be homeless encampments being created along some BeltLine property and near Georgia Power’s construction area.
“We’ve dealt with encampments like that and we still do. We always encourage anyway viewing it or dealing with it to call 911,” Owens said.
Lighting and cameras will be installed on this trail and all future trails built from now on, Owens said.
Erin Martin, who works near the Northeast Trail, said she is excited that it could move forward sooner than originally expected.
“I’m excited to hear that it sounds like a piece of it may get paved sooner than expected,” she said.
To view the full presentation, visit beltline.org.