‘Beltline bill’ advances closer to final passage

Georgia House members on Friday overwhelmingly approved legislation to help the Atlanta Beltline partner with private firms to hasten development.

Senate Bill 4 passed 130-29. It must return to the Senate after changes were made in the House.

The bill would permit public-private partnerships to help build out the Beltline’s planned 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit. City leaders have been eyeing so-called “P3s” as a way to finance the most expensive portion of the project, a future light-rail system that, according to 2013 estimates, could cost about $2.3 billion and would connect with the existing Atlanta Streetcar.

Bill supporters say the legislation’s passage could enable the greenspace project to be completed sooner than its 2030 deadline. Atlanta Beltline Inc. oversees the planning and execution of the project.

An amendment added in the House seeks to avoid future conflicts that have the city of Atlanta and AT&T in court. The telecom giant says the city owes it nearly $6 million for costs related to forced relocation of utility lines to accommodate the Atlanta Streetcar. The city disagrees.