The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project encompassing a historic 22-mile railroad corridor encircling the downtown region of Atlanta. Its goal is to connect 45 neighborhoods by providing pedestrian-friendly trails, parks, affordable housing, and public art.
The project began as Georgia Tech graduate student Ryan Gravel’s graduate thesis in 1999. The idea flourished into a grassroots campaign that led to the development of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and a Five Year Work Plan.
With its integrated approach for sustainable growth, the Beltline will serve as a model for transit development and its ability to connect existing infrastructure to further benefit the city’s residents and economy.
The project is a recipient of the Federal Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Smart Growth Award for the BeltLine’s Eastside Trail and Historic 4th Ward Park work.
The Atlanta BeltLine is doing wonders to connect public spaces through the redevelopment of the 22-mile historic corridor. When completed, this corridor will be a linear parkway with multi-use trails linking existing neighborhoods and parks together and creating greater accessibility.
BeltLine plans included creating and redeveloping 1,300 acres of abandoned land and brownfields into a variety of greenspaces. Currently, there are six parks completed, each with its own unique qualities including modern playgrounds, athletic fields, lakes, picnic pavilions and more.
These greenspaces were built with the environment in mind – utilizing where possible solar panels, organic landscapes, underground cisterns, and even kudzu (invasive plant)-eating goats. The solar panels allow the parks to sustain themselves while simultaneously generating excess energy that is sold back to Georgia Power.
Plans call for 22-mile Beltline area to be connected to a light-rail streetcar transit system which connects with existing transit systems such as MARTA to provide further connectivity to downtown, midtown, and 45 Atlanta neighborhoods. The Atlanta BeltLine/Atlanta Streetcar System plan was published in 2014, integrating these existing and future systems.
The Atlanta BeltLine also encourages walking and biking as a major form of transportation through its multi-use trails and parks. Through complete integration of existing transit systems and the Atlanta BeltLine transit, the metro Atlanta region will see an overall increase in its walkability and quality of life.
The Atlanta BeltLine’s future is directly tied to the commitment the broader community makes to its success. There are many ways in which the community can get involved with the project – such as attending community meetings, volunteering, engaging in study groups, and supporting related campaigns.
The BeltLine’s master plan is to revitalize the 45 neighborhoods it connects through the creation of jobs, private and public partnerships, and mixed-used developments.
The BeltLine is working closely with the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency in order to increase the number of job and training opportunities through an Inaugural Jobs Program. The goal is to produce 30,000 permanent jobs and 48,000 temporary construction jobs, specifically for low-income current residents.
Invest Atlanta, Atlanta’s economic development authority, is a key player in developing Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI). Invest Atlanta focuses its efforts on managing and measuring the BeltLine’s funding and economic success.
The BeltLine is moving Atlanta forward with its sustainable storm water and watershed techniques along redeveloped areas. Historic Fourth Ward Park includes a storm water pond to collect and detain urban runoff, and also serves as a biophilic amenity for nearby residents. Other techniques being employed include permeable pavers, underground water storage units, bioswales and rain gardens.
YouTube Video: What the Heck is Storm Water Runoff?