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Thursday, July 9, 2009

GDOT, Beltline strike deal on vital track segments

click to enlarge Beltline has secured a purchase option on segments highlighted above in red
  • Beltline has secured a purchase option on segments highlighted above in red

The Beltline and Georgia Department of Transportation have agreed that key railroad tracks owned by the state agency will indeed be part of the 22-mile loop of parks, trails and transit.

GDOT Commissioner Vance Smith and Atlanta Beltline Inc. CEO Terri Montague announced today the agencies have struck a deal over a two vital segments of railroad tracks in Southwest and Southeast Atlanta.

The set of tracks in Southwest Atlanta stretch more than three miles from Allene Avenue to Lena Street. The other segment, which is much smaller, runs from Wylie Street to Memorial Drive in Reynoldstown.

According to the agreement, Beltline officials have exclusive claim on the properties until June 30, 2012. Until then, ABI will lease the segments and prepare them for public use — think hiking tours, urban sightseeing, etc.

“This is a great milestone for the BeltLine,” Montague said in a statement. “I am extremely grateful to the board and staff of the Georgia Department of Transportation for making this BeltLine transaction a priority. By securing the Southwest corridor and a portion of the Southeast corridor, the BeltLine is now ahead of schedule on Right of Way acquisition, and controls close to 50 percent of the BeltLine corridor. This agreement will allow ABI to continue transit and trail planning activities and open parts of the corridor up to the public within the next year.”

”We are extremely pleased to participate in a project that will advance transit and mobility options in the city and the region,” Smith of GDOT said.

The track segments are unused and abandoned, which means Beltline officials can now begin planning in the project areas. It also means we won’t see a repeat of the fiasco we saw earlier this year in Northeast Atlanta between ABI, GDOT and Amtrak. After negotiations, GDOT and Amtrak backed away, and ABI was able to move forward with planning in the area.

Officials now say that dispute helped bring the agencies together and improve communication, making deals such as this one possible.

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