March 20, 2006


Railroad roots to help Atlanta draw together (Larry Copeland, 3/19/06, USA TODAY)

This city has always had a special relationship with railroads. Atlanta began as a tiny settlement called Terminus because it was at the southern end of a rail line to Chattanooga, Tenn. [...]

Now, community and business leaders are launching an ambitious plan to reclaim some of the old rail lines and use them to increase Atlanta's public park space by 50%. They say it will improve transit in the city, reconnect neighborhoods split apart for decades by railroad tracks and highways and serve as a blueprint for development for decades to come.

The 22-mile "Atlanta Beltline" will link parts of five rail lines in a corridor encircling the city. The corridor, which will be 100 to 200 feet wide in most places, will connect 40 existing parks and add more than 1,200 acres of green space. The Beltline ultimately will include a transit system such as light rail or streetcars and miles of hiking and biking trails. The city expects developments that mix commercial, retail and residential uses to sprout along the Beltline. Many of the Beltline's tracks are still intact although new tracks would have to be installed for light rail.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 20, 2006 7:00 AM

Now if they could only find some more rail lines in te downtown area, to offer up more alternatives to that nightmare of a mixmaster highway interchange.

Posted by: John at March 20, 2006 9:33 AM

Rail on street level? That'll go over big in the fancy downtown area. Digging a subway? Too big a nightmare to imagine and prohibitably
expensive. Monorail likewise. Smelly diesel burning buses?

Posted by: erp at March 20, 2006 12:33 PM

I saw the map in the paper at lunch; a 22-mile circumference is about a 7-mile diameter. This "loop" goes from roughly the lower part of Midtown to barely Turner Field. And it will take 25 years to finish? At $2.6 billion? That's over $100 million per mile. Why?

Forget the rails - on this scale, they are worthless. Unless the city decides to build a Buster Keaton railroad car to carry tourists around (through some pretty bad neighborhoods, too). The parks are a good idea, and Atlanta needs them. But $2.6 billion? No. Epecially with Atlanta paying hundreds of thousands a day to the GA EPA until it finishes a new sewage plant.

OJ, light rail in Bangor or Odessa makes more sense than this idea.

Posted by: jim hamlen at March 20, 2006 3:45 PM