The news has been buzzing around Atlanta for the past couple days that an 11th hour move by the GDOT and AMTRAK may be putting the Beltline at risk. The story centers around the right of way in the northeast quadrant of the proposed loop. The GDOT swooped in with AMTRAK on 1/21/2009 to stop the abandonment process that was already set in motion by Norfolk Southern set to take effect on 1/22/2009. The state feels that this section of the Beltline is one of the only suitable corridors that they can use for commuter rail and/or high speed intra-city rail. I think everyone can agree that both of those are needed solutions to the metro area's transit woes but should we potentially sacrifice what may be the largest urban redevelopment project in the city for potential commuter rail and/or high speed intra-city rail?
There are other options for those two (Brookhaven & the Gulch area) but no other viable options exist for the Beltline. Not to mention that the northeast rail lines would run right through some of Atlanta's nicest neighborhoods and parks. Light rail would be a much quieter and development friendly solution for these areas.
I have full faith that the city and state leaders will work this out and the Beltline will move forward. But, for all of us who are in favor of this project, this is a wake up call that pitfalls are out there and this multi-billion dollar project is certainly far from a done deal. If you are unfamiliar with the Beltline project but are interested in learning more, check out our previous post on the free Beltline tours.
Recent Articles on the Beltline Dispute
GDOT, AMTRAK Throw Wrench in Beltline Plans - Creative Loafing
DOT Action Could Kill Beltline, Mayor Says - AJC
BELTLINE: Amtrak Wants Land for Heavy Rail - AJC
Most of DOT Board Didn't Know About Beltline Opposition - Creative Loafing
Mayor Shirley Franklin's Letter to State Representative John Lewis