The first segment of the Atlanta Beltline running along the Southside of the city is now open to the public.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms gathered with leaders from the Beltline, city and community for a ribbon-cutting of the newly paved Southside Trail Tuesday morning.
The mixed-use path runs for 0.8 miles from the existing Westside Trail at the end of University Avenue to Pittsburgh Yards, just west of the I-75/85 overpass.
“We often look at these plans on paper, but to actually see it happen, to know all the work that’s gone (into) making it happen, it’s great to be able to celebrate that all in one term,” Bottoms said at the ribbon-cutting event.
“We love (the Beltline). It’s somewhere we can go walk in the community and we can get some exercise,” said Devin Brown, who visited the new portion of the Beltline on Wednesday and lives in nearby Adair Park.
The remainder of the Southside Trail, which connects with the paved Eastside Trail near I-20, is open as an unpaved trail for now as design and planning work continues. City leaders heralded the Southside Trail opening as the first step toward a connected, paved route from the Eastside to the Westside.
“As the Beltline was being built out, one of things that was being said across the city ... was that the Beltline would never come to the Southside of Atlanta,” said Councilwoman Joyce Sheperd, who thanked Bottoms and other city leaders for achieving “the dream of having the Beltline on the Southside.”
But Sheperd also pointed out that housing costs are increasing in Beltline-adjacent neighborhoods like nearby Pittsburgh.
“In that neighborhood now, houses are selling for unbelievable prices,” she said. “We appreciate what’s happening but … we just have to keep affordable housing in our communities.”
By the end of the decade, officials say, the Beltline will be a connected 22-mile paved loop around the city. Tax dollars from the Beltline’s Special Service District, along with philanthropic and federal funding, will cover the construction for the remainder of the Southside Trail. Construction is expected to start in the next year or two.