By Collin Kelley
If you live near or frequent the area around Irwin Street where the paved portion of the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail currently ends (or begins depending on your direction of travel) you’ll know that the amount of walkers and cyclists has significantly increased.
New yield for pedestrian signs have been placed and the once rough bump over the old embedded railroad tracks is now paved and smooth. With the reconstruction of the Edgewood Avenue Bridge still ongoing, many of those walkers and cyclists are now hanging a left off the BeltLine onto Irwin and proceeding to Krog Street to cross over to Wylie Street and pick up the BeltLine trail in Reynoldstown.
Utilizing Krog and Wylie are all part of the plan to get trail users across the CSX Husley Yard, according to Beltline communications director Ethan Davidson. Reconstruction of the Edgewood Bridge is still expected to be completed by Spring 2014, despite workers running into some problems with utilities at the site.
Davidson said once the bridge is finished, BeltLine users would begin to see more activity on extending the paved portion of the Eastside Trail from Irwin down to DeKalb Avenue. In the meantime, work will begin in Cabbagetown and Reynoldstown early next year on improvements to Wylie Street.
Marked bike lanes will be added to Wylie, along with medians and new, staggered parking on the north and south sides of the street.
Davidson said the environmental study process is still ongoing at Hulsey Yard, which will determine how the BeltLine will cross the busy rail yard. “Once the environmental part is done, it moves us closer to preliminary engineering and design,” he said. “It will be a big milestone for the BeltLine once we’ve decided the best way to cross Hulsey Yard.”
Until the Hulsey issue is solved, the iconic Krog Street Tunnel will be a temporary connector, and the BeltLine is working with the city on improvements to the tunnel to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists including guardrails and lighting.
Other BeltLine updates of note:
- There are now 10 security cameras placed at intervals along the Eastside Trail and the Atlanta Police Department is patrolling regularly with its Path Force Unit.
- With the support of the community in southwest Atlanta, the Atlanta City Council recently condemned several vacant parcels to accelerate work on the Southwest Connector Trail and the expansion of Enota Park.
- Davidson said the BeltLine is working to get consultants under contract for the environmental study process of linking the BeltLine to the Atlanta Streetcar in Downtown.
- The City of Atlanta received an $18 million TIGER V grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the development of a 2.5-mile portion of the BeltLine. The section in question runs from Allene Avenue north to Lawton Street, where it will transition to the existing West End Trail for a few blocks, then return to the rail corridor near Ralph Abernathy Boulevard and run north to Lena Street and Washington Park, where it will terminate at the existing Westside Trail, a PATH Foundation trail. Davidson said the grant money would accelerate work on that part of the trail by three years.