Atlanta just got a lot closer to completing the BeltLine.
The city reached a deal to buy the southern end of the loop, which has been a missing link between the paved Eastside and Westside trails.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said the new section will connect neighborhoods that historically have been cut off from each other.
“For many decades Atlanta’s neighborhoods have been separated by physical barriers such as highways, interstates and vacant rail lines,” Bottoms said. “The BeltLine is important because it helps us overcome many of these barriers.”
The city agreed to pay rail company CSX about $25 million for the four and a half mile section. The funds came from the transportation special purpose local option sales tax, or T-SPLOST, that Atlanta voters approved in 2016.
BeltLine CEO Brian McGowan said his organization wants to make sure people can use the south side of the trail soon.
“We don’t want people to wait too long to use it, because you’ve waited long enough. Our goal is to open it as an interim trail in the next 12 months,” he said.
The purchase means only about 20-30 percent of the BeltLine remains out of the city’s hands.
McGowan said the Northwest section of the 22-mile loop still has an active rail road and his team is working to design around it now.