(8 years ago)
|Legal status||Georgia Non-Profit|
|Purpose/focus||Urban redevelopment and mobility|
|Chief Operating Officer||Lisa Gordon|
|Main organ||Atlanta BeltLine Inc. (ABI) and Atlanta BeltLine Partnership (ABLP)|
The BeltLine (sometimes Belt Line, Beltline) is a former railway corridor around the core of Atlanta which is under development in stages as a multi-use trail. Some portions are already complete, while others are still in a rough state but hikeable. Using existing rail track easements, it aims to improve not only transportation, but to add green space and promote redevelopment. There are longer term visions for streetcar or light rail lines along all or part of the corridor.
The idea originated in a 1999 masters degree thesis by Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel, who founded the non-profit Friends of the Belt Line and works for the city of Atlanta's planning department. Frustrated with the lack of transportation alternatives in Atlanta, Gravel and two of his colleagues, Mark Arnold and Sarah Edgens, summarized his thesis in 2000 and mailed copies to two dozen influential Atlantans. Cathy Woolard, then the city council representative for district six, was an early supporter of the concept. Woolard, Gravel, Arnold, and Edgens spent the next several months promoting the idea of the BeltLine to neighborhood groups, the PATH foundation, and Atlanta business leaders. Supported by Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, previous city council president Cathy Woolard, and many others in Atlanta's large business community, the idea grew rapidly during 2003 and 2004.
The railroad tracks and rights-of-way are owned mostly by CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern, and the Georgia Department of Transportation. Developer Wayne Mason had purchased most of the NS portion, in anticipation of the BeltLine, but later sold it after conflict with the city.
The total length will be 22 miles (35 km), running about 3 miles (5 km) on either side of Atlanta's elongated central business district. It is planned to include a neighborhood-serving transit system (likely streetcars), footpaths for non-motorized traffic, including bicycling, rollerskating, and walking and the redevelopment of some 2,544 acres (10.3 km²). The project (although not the funding for it) is included in the 25-year Mobility 2030 plan by the Atlanta Regional Commission, for improving transit from 2005 to 2030.
Park component 
The BeltLine plan calls for the creation of a series of parks throughout the city creating what the working plan, The Beltline Emerald Necklace [dead link], calls the thirteen "Beltline Jewels". These would be connected by the trail and transit components of the plan. The Trust for Public Land first identified areas that would be appropriate for parkland, and spurred the inclusion of the park component in the current plan. The Trust is active in acquiring land for the project, which it intends to sell to the city after bonds have been issued from the beltline tax-allocation district.
The plan would expand these existing parks:
- Enota Park from 0.3 to 10 acres (40,000 m2)
- Maddox Park from 52 to 114 acres (0.46 km2)
- Ardmore Park from 2 to 8 acres (32,000 m2)
and create these new parks:
- Peachtree Creek Park 65 acres (260,000 m2) at Peachtree Creek near Buckhead
- Hillside Park 28 acres (110,000 m2) at the current McDaniel CEO facility
- Holtzclaw Park 2 acres (8,100 m2)
- Historic Fourth Ward Park (formerly North Avenue Park 63 acres (250,000 m2) at the to-be-renovated Ponce City Market (formerly the Sears building, then City Hall East)
- Waterworks Park 204 acres (0.83 km2)
- Westside Park 351 acres (1.42 km2) - roughly twice the size of Piedmont Park - on the site of the former Bellwood Quarry. The 100 feet (30 m)-deep former gravel pit will become a reservoir.
Multi-use trails 
The BeltLine would feature a continuous path encircling the central part of the city, generally following the old railroad right of way, but departing from it in several areas along the northwest portion of the route. The PATH Foundation, which has many years of experience building such trails in the Atlanta area, is a partner in the development of this portion of the system.
Transit elements 
The original focus of the BeltLine thesis was on establishing a light rail link around the central portion of the city. In Summer 2012, there was a referendum on whether or not a 1-cent sales tax (SPLOST) would have been implemented to fund traffic and road improvements. If approved, the tax would have funded several streetcar routes along portions of the BeltLine trail and connections onto MARTA stations and with the Downtown Loop streetcar. The sales tax did not pass.
Usage issues 
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While the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (which runs the MARTA system) is excited about the surface-level addition to its existing above-ground and subway system, GDOT has reservations, as the lines it previously purchased were intended for use as commuter rail connections. CSX also is concerned, as passenger trains would have to pass through a major regional railyard, intermingling with freight trains and possibly causing issues of delays and potential legal liability.
In late January 2009, GDOT and Amtrak made an unannounced and last-minute filing with the Surface Transportation Board that would effectively block the northeast part of the BeltLine, instead taking it for future intercity rail. However, this conflict was later resolved.
"Art on the Atlanta BeltLine" is the city of Atlanta's largest temporary public art exhibition that showcases the work of hundreds of visual artists, performers, and musicians along nine miles of the Atlanta BeltLine corridor. 
There are five gaps along the BeltLine where rights of way do not connect and thus create larger challenges to the project.
- Armour — Near the Lindbergh Center MARTA station, bisected by two active rail lines. Solving this would involve transit sharing the rail right-of-way and splitting off the trail where Clear Creek joins Peachtree Creek, following Clear Creek around the Armour warehouse properties then tunneling under the active rail lines and I-85 to the Ansley Golf Course then rejoining the BeltLine.
- CSX Hulsey Yard — Near the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station. A workaround for the trail is to utilize the existing tunnel at Krog Street.
- Bill Kennedy Way (also known variously as the Glenwood-Memorial Connector and the Glenwood-Wylie Connector) — a bridge spanning I-20 between Glenwood Park/Ormewood Park and Reynoldstown. The proposed fix here is to widen the bridge enough to support trail, transit and motor traffic.
- Washington Park to Simpson Rd — near the Ashby MARTA station. Proposals include a span over the MARTA tracks or possibly share the right of way.
- Bankhead — The largest gap is near Maddox Park and unfortunately involves one of the busiest rail corridors in the state. Proposals include 1) taking the trail east to cross under Hollowell Blvd; 2) diverting through Mead property at Marietta Blvd; or 3) sharing the road with Lowery (formerly Ashby Street).
The first development of the BeltLine began when the Atlanta & West Point Railroad began building a five mile (8 km) connecting rail line from its northern terminus at Oakland City to Hulsey Yard on the Georgia Railroad (basically the southeast quarter of the completed BeltLine). The surveys were done and initial construction had begun when the courts ordered a halt in May 1899 as that work did not fall under the A&WP's charter. In September of that year a more ambitious charter for an Atlanta Belt Railway Company was announced that would circle the entire city connecting all rail lines so that freight car transfers could occur on the outskirts rather than downtown. The initial charter was to encompass no more than 30 miles (48 km) and named only perimeter points Howell and Clifton Stations. Since Clifton was in DeKalb County both it and Fulton were named in the charter. After surveys of the route and right of way acquisitions, the DeKalb portion was ditched leaving the entire route in Fulton County. The entire line was completed by 1902.
- 1999 Ryan Gravel's thesis
- 2004 Trust for Public Land publishes Alexander Garvin-written Emerald Necklace proposal
- April 19 — Fulton County Commission approves (5-2) sale of Bellwood Quarry for Westside Park 
- September 21 — developer Wayne Mason who owns the 5 mile (8 km) northeast segment (from DeKalb Ave up through Ansley Park) withdraws his rezoning applications from the city. Mason, a suburban land speculator, had purchased the railroad right of way from Norfolk Southern in 2004. Rather than preserving the property as a greenway and transit corridor, Mason proposed a deal with the city whereby he would give a portion of his land in exchange for the right to develop the remainder to extremely high densities. The most controversial component of his plan was a proposal to build 38- and 39-story condominiums on the eastern edge of Piedmont Park, in an area dominated by historic single family homes. Mason's proposal galvanized the adjacent neighborhoods to organize, forming the Beltline Neighbors Coalition. Despite paid lobbying on Mason's behalf by such heavyweights as former Governor Roy Barnes, in the end the city held firm with the original intention of preserving the corridor as transit and greenspace.
- December 11 — After soliciting comments from the public, MARTA recommends rail service (including either modern streetcar or light rail technology) for the corridor, even though bus rapid transit technology would have possible lower capital costs.
- June 13 — city of Atlanta purchases over 21 acres (8.5 ha) near Grant Park for part of the "jewel" called Boulevard Crossing in the Emerald Necklace study.
- August 7 — Atlanta Beltline Inc acquires the first section of the corridor. In partnership with Ben Raney and Barry Real Estate Companies, ABI announces the purchases of the NE section of beltline from developers Wayne and Keith Mason.
- November 12 — $8 million allocated to purchase land where North Avenue crosses the Beltline for a 16-acre (6.5 ha) park (which can later be expanded to 35 acres (14 ha)).
- October — Grand opening of first finished section of the BeltLine. 2.3 miles (3.7 km) of the southwest quadrant including an arboretum, access to Westview Cemetery, and an upgrade of Gordon-White Park.
- December — Groundbreaking on the first trail occurs, where mayor-elect Kasim Reed announces he wants to make the BeltLine a reality in 10 years, instead of 25.
- April — Opening ceremony for a 1-mile (1.6 km) segment of trail that snakes through Tanyard Creek Park, Louise G. Howard Park, and along Bobby Jones Golf Course.
- June 19 — $5 million donation from Kaiser Permanente and PATH to build graded hardscape from DeKalb Ave north to Ponce de Leon Ave to be completed within a year.
- August - The then current CEO Brian Leary was forced to resign over amid controversy about the organization's reported use of taxpayer dollars to fund non-business expenses. 
- October 15 ribbon cutting for the 2.2 mile northeast section from Inman Park north to Piedmont Park. An arboretum of over 600 mature native trees are planted on this section.
- GDOT approval of the following BeltLine multi-use path projects
- AR-450A $20 million (35% federal dollars) 2007 (includes $17 million for ROW)
- AR-450B Bicycle/pedestrian 2008 $19 million (58% federal)
- AR-450B Bicycle/pedestrian 2020 $15 million (100% city of Atlanta)
- http://www.alexgarvin.net/main.php?ptype=7&pkey=19&pub=5[dead link]
- Sugg, John F. (January 20, 2011). ""Northwest: Turn a giant hole in the ground into Atlanta's new waterfront", Thomas Wheatley,". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Wheatley, Thomas (February 28, 2011). "Where do you want Beltline transit to go? Here are planners' ideas". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Wheatley, Thomas (March 30, 2011). "Streetcar, Beltline, MARTA improvements top Atlanta's transportation-tax wishlist". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., "Citywide Briefing on Transit Implementation Strategy & Transportation Investment Act Projects", Feb 17, 2011". Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Sugg, John F. "Creative Loafing Atlanta". Blogs.creativeloafing.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "39845 - Decision". Stb.dot.gov. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "Art on the Atlanta BeltLine". Retrieved 2013-04-06.
- Hanson, Robert, The West Point Route, TLC Publishing, 2005, p.22
- "(unknown article)". Atlanta Constitution. September 8, 1899.
- "de beste bron van informatie over the stories. Deze website is te koop!". the-stories.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Retrieved from http://www.itsmarta.com/newsroom/beltline.html.
- Retrieved from http://www.beltline.org/media/docs/Beltline%20News%20Release%20NE_BeltLine_08_07_07_FINAL_DISTRIBUTION.pdf.
- "Beltline gets $8 mil for North Ave Park". DecaturMetro.com. 2007-11-12. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- "The Beltline Begins". WrensNestOnline.com. 2008-02-23. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Sugg, John F. "Creative Loafing Atlanta". Blogs.creativeloafing.com. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Hale, Piper (2010-04-09). "Beltline trail opening ceremony, park clean-up on Saturday". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2012-01-25.
- Beltline Partnership
- BeltLine Network Planning Information
- BeltLine Neighbors Coalition
- Ryan Gravel's Georgia Tech thesis
- Beltline Living Community
- Thomas Wheatley, "How to make the Beltline happen", Creative Loafing, January 20, 2011 - Description of five key BeltLine projects
- Kaid Benfield, "The Country's Most Ambitious Smart Growth Project", The Atlantic, July 26, 2011 - Assessment of progress on BeltLine development through July 2011