Courtesy Atlanta Beltline

The plan offers an innovative vision for combining parks and transit

Regular readers of my work know that I return periodically to a few favorite city sustainability projects, following their evolution over time. One of those is the Atlanta Beltline, that city's ambitious plan to transform an old railroad loop around downtown into a showcase transit, trail and parks corridor, spurring revitalization and the construction of workforce housing along the way.

The economic slump couldn't have come at a worse time for the Beltline. But there has at least been significant progress on park and trail development around the corridor, and that progress (coupled with the prospect for transit) has already catalyzed some good revitalization of formerly distressed neighborhoods in Atlanta's core.

Recently I came across some great renderings that demonstrate why this project has such immense potential. Consider, for instance, the before-and-after images of this segment near Irwin Street:

Courtesy Kaid Benfield/Atlanta Beltline

And, yes, the plan is to have a green track bed for the Beltline where feasible.

Here's another before-and-after (apologies for the poor quality of the "before," which I grabbed from Googe Earth's Street View). In the vision, note the recreational trail running alongside the transit:

Courtesy Kaid BenfieldAtlanta Beltline

For the remainder, I wasn't able to get accurate "before" images but I can show the approximate perspective from the normal Google Earth satellite view:

Courtesy Kaid Benfield

Courtesy Atlanta Beltline

Wow. I know it's just a rendering, but that is definitely what the city should aim for when running transit alongside parkland.

In the next images, the overpass is Highland Avenue:

Courtesy Kaid Benfield

Courtesy Atlanta Beltline

If you believe that cities should continually evolve toward sustainability, and that we must plan innovative 21st-century projects to attain 21st-century cities, you have to be rooting for the Atlanta Beltline. Take a look at the Beltline's main website for much more detail on its objectives and progress, and consider getting involved to help make it happen.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

  2. Three men wearing suits raise shovels full of dirt in front of an American flag.
    Equity

    How Cities and States Can Stop the Incentive Madness

    Economist Timothy Bartik explains why the public costs of tax incentives often outweigh the benefits, and describes a model business-incentive package.

  3. Life

    The Zombie Storefronts of America

    If retail is dying, then pop-up shops might be what replace it.

  4. photo: A metro train at Paris' Gare Du Nord.
    Transportation

    Can the Paris Metro Make Room for More Riders?

    The good news: Transit ridership is booming in the French capital. But severe crowding now has authorities searching for short-term solutions.

  5. People in the park at night in front of water
    Perspective

    Nairobi Should Rethink Its Colonialist Approach to Urban Design

    The road being built in Nairobi is for the rich. Even if it will no longer traverse the city’s major park, it’s not the future-thinking urban design that Kenya needs.

×