The Buckhead trail as it looks today, left, and an artist’s rendering of the latest proposal.

The PATH Foundation is considering a plan to develop walking and biking trails along Ga. 400, a project that would connect Buckhead neighborhoods to the city’s BeltLine project.

The foundation, which develops trails in metro Atlanta for bikers, runners, walkers and skaters, is looking at a proposal developed by the Liveable Buckhead Initiative to build a 4 ¼-mile trail within the Georgia Department of Transportation right-of-way for Ga. 400.

“We think it’s a great project,” PATH Foundation Executive Director Ed McBrayer said. “We’re just going to have to go through the process of acquainting the community with it.”

McBrayer said the PATH board likely will decide by early summer whether to add the Ga. 400 trail to its list of projects to be developed within the next three years.

McBrayer said the new proposal mirrors one considered by PATH two decades ago. PATH’s first study of an Atlanta trail system, developed with the city of Atlanta as one of PATH’s first jobs, proposed trails along the Ga. 400 corridor, he said. Those plans eventually were dropped, he said, in part because Ga. 400 itself was so controversial at the time.

“It’s really kind of exciting 20 years later to have that trail vision resurface,” he said.

McBrayer said PATH’s board was evaluating 100 different projects and may be able to find money for half of them. The Ga. 400 trail project is “certainly on the table,” he said.

“I’d like to think we would finance it because it connects a lot of important projects,” McBrayer said.

The initiative’s proposal arose as part of the organization’s study of ways to develop more green space in the part of Buckhead included in Atlanta City Council’s District 7, which has been identified as the area of the city with the least public green space.

Liveable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling said the organization is working on a plan for trails to be built entirely within Ga. 400 right-of-way owned by the state Department of Transportation, so the project would not require purchasing any land from homeowners or businesses. “DOT is OK with trails,” she said. “They get the trail concept.”

The Ga. 400 right-of-way trail would extend from Loridans Drive to the Lindberg MARTA station, where a connection could be built to the BeltLine, she and McBrayer said.

Early studies divide the trail into five segments. Each could be built separately. Starling said parts of the project could cost $1 million a mile and the overall project could cost $5 million to $6 million. The Buckhead Community Improvement District has agreed to pay for concept drawings of two segments to determine which should be the first developed, Starling said.

Some segments of the trail would be at grade with Ga. 400 while other segments could be beneath elevated portions of the highway, according to Livable Buckhead’s plans. “Some of it’s underneath. Some of it’s beside and some of it’s above,” she said.

Starling said the plans would be presented to neighborhood groups soon. “It’s going be a very intensive engagement with the neighborhoods,” she said.

McBrayer agreed, saying the project “is strictly a concept at this point.” He said the groups would soon “go through the process of acquainting the community with it.”

The trail’s planners “would like to have neighborhood buy-in and city buy-in,” McBrayer said. “We think it’s a great project.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.

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