The Atlanta BeltLine may soon extend into the southeast portion of Buckhead, and plans for the trail, called the Northeast Trail, were presented at a public meeting July 13.
The Northeast Trail would be the second segment of BeltLine trails to be built in Buckhead following the completed Northside Trail near Piedmont Hospital.
The plan would work with Georgia Power to pave an existing interim hiking trail from Ansley Mall in Midtown to Mayson Street, just barely past I-85 on the Buckhead border.
The BeltLine already has secured federal funding for that segment of the trail and sections on either end of it, to Monroe Drive on the south end and to Lindbergh on the north end, but it is not enough money to fund the entire project.
BeltLine officials are trying to seize an opportunity to have some of the work facilitated by Georgia Power during its work replacing power infrastructure on the “Hairpin Line,” so named because the poles look like hairpins, which will begin this fall.
During Georgia Power’s work, it will level the ground, remove train tracks and possibly pave the trail for the BeltLine, depending on what can be negotiated, Ray Strychalski, the landscape architect working on the project, said.
The contractor working on the designs and construction for this segment of the trail is Kimley-Horn, and their contract may be extended to complete the portions on either end of this segment, including the portion that extends from Mayson Street to Armour Drive, which would extend the BeltLine into a blossoming redeveloped industrial area in Buckhead with breweries, distilleries and nonprofits. It will likely be another two years before officials begin planning for the segment into the Lindbergh area, officials said at the meeting.
For the partnership with Georgia Power to work, the BeltLine will have to allow the construction of five “maintenance pads,” 25-foot by 60-foot areas of concrete or some other hard material that can support trucks to do emergency or rare maintence on the power lines that will run along the trail. Instead of leaving these as dead zones while the pads are not being used for maintenance, planners are hoping to find a creative use for them and asked for the public’s suggestions.
Some examples given during the meeting include labyrinths, vegetation, powered areas for entertainment or gathering spaces. Some suggestions given by the public include using them as an area to rest and drink water or allowing food trucks to park on the spaces. Anything done on the pads has to be temporary or easily removable or Georgia Power will not allow it, Strychalski said.
Chris Iverson, an Ansley Mall area resident, said he is excited about the prospect of having the trail begin earlier than expected, and is looking forward to having a paved trail to make bicycling easier.
Matt Moreland, a Lindbergh area resident, said he is happy to hear trails closer to him may move forward, and he hopes BeltLine officials are able to make an agreement with Georgia Power.
“I hope they get it all worked out and some progress can happen soon,” he said.
The plans and negotiations are still in the early stages with no concrete designs, and officials are urging the public to submit comments and suggestions, including for where planners should create access points to the trail. Comments can be submitted by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The organizers have posted the July 13 presentation online.