New 4.5 mile jogging, cycling trail along GA 400 planned

11:57 AM, Jul 27, 2011   |    comments
New Trail Along Georgia 400 in Buckhead, "Before" and "After." (Courtesy: Buckhead C.I.D.)
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ATLANTA -- Trails in Metro Atlanta have become so popular among walkers and joggers and bicyclists, the city's going to get another one.

A new trail in Buckhead is going to wind through the woods along Georgia Highway 400 and tie into the BeltLine.

The north end of the trail will be near the Georgia 400 toll plaza, off of Loridans Drive.

The trail will extend south along Georgia 400, using the DOT right-of-way that extends just behind the highway's noise barriers.

At least one of the four plans for the trail would locate the trail along the west side of Georgia 400, next to the south-bound lanes of Georgia 400; at least one of the plans puts the trail on the east side of the highway, next to the north-bound lanes.

Whichever side of the highway the trail is on, it will pass by the backyards of a lot of homeowners.

And it will go for miles.

High above the trees of Buckhead, and eye-level with its high-rise buildings, Jim Durrett stands in his Tower Place office and traces the 4.5 mile route with his finger on a planning map, describing the route:

"From Loridans, all the way down through the core of Buckhead, (connecting) into the BeltLine," south of the Lindbergh MARTA rail station.

Jim Durrett is Executive Director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District. He told 11Alive's Jon Shirek Tuesday that he has identified additional funding beyond what has already been committed and he is optimistic about raising all of the money to build the trail -- about $8 million.  The funding sources include a $3 million commitment from the PATH Foundation of Atlanta.

[Ed. note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that nearly all of the money had actually been raised, and we regret the error.]

"It is going to be an engineering feat. But it's also going to be a park-design delight because we're creating a linear park," Durrett said. "So you will be able to walk, run or ride a bike from far north in Buckhead, all the way into Midtown Atlanta, all the way down near Lindbergh to connect with the eventual BeltLine."

The plans include several places where people can access the trail; the plans also call for creating several new, smaller parks along the way.

A short section of the trail, where it emerges into the Buckhead business section, would wind along the sidewalks in and around the skyscrapers and cross Peachtree Road near the Buckhead MARTA station where Georgia 400 passes underneath the street.

Durrett said Atlanta is one of the "least parked" cities in the nation, and the Buckhead section of Atlanta is one of the "least parked" parts of the city.

The Buckhead C.I.D. has already completed a feasibility study of the trail, and is planning to pay for the design and part of the construction costs.

In addition to the Buckhead C.I.D. and the PATH Foundation, other private contributors include the Buckhead Business Foundation. Atlanta City Councilmember Howard Shook, whose district includes Buckhead, helped secure $200,000 from the City towards the project.

Durrett said the project has a green light from the Georgia Department of Transportation to use the DOT right-of-way, and also has approval from the State Road and Tollway Authority, MARTA, and Norfolk-Southern, since the trail would cross private railroad property.

The trail is only one part of a larger "Buckhead Collection" plan that Council member Shook has been spearheading, to identify locations for more parks, plazas and trails in Buckhead.

Durrett said construction of the trail along Georgia 400 might begin at the end of next year, and parts of the trail may be open within three years.

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