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Friday, August 20, 2010

Here's a peek at the Beltline's eastside bike trail design

Ponce_de_Leon.jpg
  • Atlanta Beltline Inc.

Last Thursday, Beltline officials rolled out the first sketches of the 2.5-mile bike trail that will link Piedmont Park to DeKalb Avenue. The trail, to be funded by a $5 million gift from Kaiser-Permanente and the PATH Foundation, should open to pedestrians and cyclists sometime next summer.

The 14-foot-wide path will begin at 10th and Monroe and weave through Poncey-Highland, Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park. It'll end shortly before DeKalb Avenue to prevent cyclists from rushing on to the hectic thoroughfare. Lighting and seating will be featured along the trail.

Project officials last Thursday night told CL that the path won't simply be a sloppy concrete snake tossed down willy nilly. It will feature phased-in plantings and landscaping. Space for the arboretum and a future light-rail or streetcar transit system will be preserved. Access for pedestrians and the disabled, including ramps, will be placed along the segment.

Liz Coyle, a community activist who chairs the Beltline Network, voiced concerns at last week's meeting that some of the project's most ardent supporters have debated for months. They want to be sure that the Beltline's overall design — which should be seamless — won't be jeopardized or dictated by the rush to build the eastside bike trail. The process, led by Perkins+Will and James Corner Field Operations, is currently underway.

Beltline Design Director Fred Yalouris said the funding opportunity made possible by the Kaiser Permanente and the PATH Foundation is one that "doesn't come around too often." He said he feels the design team will have the appropriate context for the rest of the Beltline. Perkins+Will's Ryan Gravel, who's the visionary behind the Beltline, agreed. Yalouris also stressed that the sketches were merely that — sketches. He noted there may be some areas where the bike trail must be torn up and replaced once transit is implemented.

Beginning in September, project officials and designers will hold three or four citywide "conversations" to discuss the trail design. We'll update dates and details when they become available. Construction crews are expected to begin preliminary work in late October. Beltline officials plan to apply for federal funding that would build several additional miles of trail — including the much-anticipated phase connecting to Glenwood Park — and pay for streetscape improvements near the project.

Photos of the different segment sketches — plus some hi-res renderings — are below. When we get our hands on other renderings, we'll post 'em. Keep in mind these are still somewhat preliminary and subject to change.

The Gateway
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Gateway

This segment begins at 10th and Monroe near Piedmont Park. The massive utility pole to the left will unfortunately remain. Beltline designers wonder if it could be co-opted as a piece of public art.

The Straight-Away
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Straight-Away

This leg runs behind Midtown Plaza, the Ponce de Leon Avenue shopping center that includes Whole Foods, and the businesses along Ponce de Leon Place. It's one of several segments along the eastside trail that offers clear views of the city skyline.

The Square
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Square

The area near City Hall East, the Ford Factory Lofts and the Masquerade will connect with Historic Fourth Ward Park, which is currently under construction.

The Overlook
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Overlook

Decades ago, trains traveled past a hill where three trees still stand and which today offers a clear view of the city. Officials want to make this (pictured above and below) a feature of the trail.

Historic_Fourth_Ward_Park.jpg
  • Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The Arc
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Arc

The area featured above and below is near the still unnamed skate park located in the shadows of Freedom Parkway near Willoughby Way. The 17,000-square-foot skate park, which is currently under construction, will be the city's first.

north_of_Freedom_Parkway.jpg
  • Atlanta Beltline Inc.

The Allee
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Allee

This shaded straight-away crosses Irwin Street and Edgewood Avenue.

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