Atlanta Beltline Project's Future Unclear

Mixed communication, contested railway lines and the collision of local, state and federal entities has put the future of Atlanta's Beltline greenspace and transit project.
February 4, 2009, 6am PST | Nate Berg
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"In brief, here's the issue: The northeast quadrant of the Beltline, known as the Decatur Belt, is a 4.3-mile piece of railroad right of way formerly run by Norfolk Southern. Running through residential areas and along Piedmont Park, it is the most commercially valuable property on the 22-mile Beltline; the city's plans for financing the project depend heavily on private investment in that area."

"But before the property could be freed for other uses, Norfolk Southern had to get an OK from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to abandon it as a railway."

"The DOT, while supportive of the Beltline, believes that preserving the Decatur Belt as a railway is essential to eventually bringing high-speed rail and commuter rail service into a proposed multimodal station in downtown Atlanta, near the Five Points MARTA station. It also believes that the Beltline property could accommodate all three uses - Beltline, high-speed rail and commuter rail."

"So earlier this month, without apparent warning to the city, the DOT filed a last-minute objection with the Surface Transportation Board to try to stop abandonment. If it succeeds, and if Amtrak succeeds in condemning the land, it could kill the Beltline project altogether."

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Published on Monday, February 2, 2009 in Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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