By Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. Staff
The City of Atlanta and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. were awarded a $16.46 million RAISE grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for the construction of nearly two miles of the Southside Trail. Spanning from the Southside Trail at Pittsburgh Yards® in southwest Atlanta to Boulevard in the southeast, this segment is another critical step in connecting the Westside and Eastside Trails.
“Thank you to the Biden Administration, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Atlanta BeltLine, and other leaders for their partnership and investment in this transformative project. With this additional funding, the BeltLine will continue to connect our communities as we work toward our vision of One Atlanta.” – Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The Atlanta BeltLine Southside Trail supports the USDOT’s priority of reconnecting communities, notably as the corridor stitches together neighborhoods on either side of Interstate 75/85, and across former railroad tracks. It also passes under an active freight railroad and busy vehicular intersection. The corridor will provide a safe route for Atlanta Public Schools students.
“We are incredibly appreciative to the USDOT and our congressional delegation for the recognition and support of the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Clyde Higgs, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine. Inc. “This project is much more than public infrastructure. With people at the forefront, the BeltLine is improving connections to jobs, schools, and opportunities, enhancing equity and mobility, and fostering culture.”
RAISE grant funds will help close the funding gap towards completing the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine multi-use trail loop. The grant will also leverage design and construction funding from the Special Service District (SSD) and the Tax Allocation District (TAD). The grant builds on $4 million in federal funding received earlier this year through the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
“When we connect our communities with pedestrian and bike trails, we provide a pathway for residents to enjoy local green spaces and invest in small businesses,” said Sen. Reverend Warnock. “We bolster social and economic mobility for hardworking Georgians when we make strong federal investments in projects like the Atlanta BeltLine, and I look forward to securing more infrastructure investments like this one for other vital transportation projects in Atlanta and across our state.”
“This $16 million investment in the BeltLine is going to substantially accelerate the project and will help communities all around Metro Atlanta,” Sen. Ossoff said. “When I was campaigning for the Senate, I made promises to deliver resources for the BeltLine, and I’m keeping those promises.”
For construction planning purposes and to accelerate delivery, the Southside Trail has been divided into segments. The first segment opened to the public in September, connecting the southern end of the Westside Trail to Pittsburgh Yards® on University Avenue. The RAISE grant will support the construction of the next two segments from Pittsburgh Yards to Boulevard. A drone video of the project area can be seen in the map.
Construction is expected to get underway within approximately two years, following the necessary preparations of brownfield remediation, utility relocation, and securing permits. The 1.9-mile trail will include six ADA-access points, including ramps and retention walls, and two enhanced at-grade crossings. The total cost for construction of these segments of the Southside Trail is approximately $40 million.
The Atlanta BeltLine is first and foremost a transportation corridor, linking neighborhoods historically separated by the railroad, connecting people, and improving equitable and inclusive access to opportunity. ABI has been studying changing demographics and economic trends that may indicate the need for policy intervention via the Demographic Data Explorer tool at https://beltline.org/2020/06/12/new-data-tool-maps-demographic-patterns-around-the-beltline. This work has led to the identification and focus on four Equity Priority Subareas – neighborhoods in west, southwest, and south Atlanta. Furthermore, eight of the nine census tracts surrounding Segments 2 and 3 of the Southside Trail are USDOT-designated Areas of Persistent Poverty.
The Atlanta BeltLine is a proven catalyst for economic growth and job creation. With nearly $8 billion in private redevelopment, more than 6,000 businesses, and approximately 111,000 residents within a half-mile of the project, ABI is heavily focused on affordability for small businesses, homeowners, and renters.
The 2021 RAISE grant will provide $1 billion in funding to a combination of urban and rural areas nationwide. For capital projects in urban areas, the maximum award is $25 million with a minimum of $5 million.
The RAISE grant builds on past federal investments for the Atlanta BeltLine, including an $18 million grant from the USDOT in 2013 for construction of 2.5 miles of the Westside Trail. ABI is currently leveraging a recent grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct brownfield clean-up of the southside corridor ahead of construction.
Upon completion of the Southside Trail, users will be able to travel on ten miles of paved Atlanta BeltLine trail from Washington Park west of downtown to Piedmont Park northeast of downtown.
A map and details on the unpaved portions of the Southside Trail can be found here on www.beltline.org.