The Atlanta BeltLine opened its new Southside Trail in the Pittsburgh Yards area this week adding another 0.8 miles to the line that will connect the Eastside and Westside Trails over 22 miles. 

Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. CEO Clyde Higgs, Atlanta City Councilmember Joyce Shepherd and many others were in attendance for the grand opening of the new Southside Trail. 

The new addition marks the first segment of joining all ends of the BeltLine. The next segments of this addition are expected to begin between the fall of next year and the summer of 2023. 

The BeltLine also prepares for future storefronts while also incorporating designs and beautification around planting and lighting.

With the extension of the trail and anticipated businesses, Atlanta BeltLine CEO Clyde Higgs says he’s extremely proud of the work that’s been done to make the BeltLine a strong investment for the community. 

“The BeltLine is more than a trail segment,” Higgs said during the event. “Obviously people enjoy riding bikes and walking on it but, at the end of the day, what we’re trying to curate is an opportunity to create employment opportunities —these jobs— all along the BeltLine corridor.” 

Companies such as Trees Atlanta, Georgia Department Of Transportation (GDOT), City of Atlanta and Verizon are also contracted to help with beautification and amenities along the trail.

Pittsburgh Yards locals also agree that the addition to the BeltLine will bring positive change and opportunities to the area. 

Pastor Arundel Hope of Ariel Bowen United Methodist Church says that the new addition to the BeltLine is very welcomed to the community. 

“We needed to bring some commerce and positive attention to the Pittsburgh community,” Hope said. 

Hope continued to say that he also looks forward to more economic attention around McDaniel Street given its history of being the first Black economic hub in the Pittsburgh Yards area.

“There’s a rich history here,” Hope said. “And we do want to bring back some of that rich history and legacy for the Pittsburgh community.” 

The vision of the BeltLine is to connect as much of Atlanta as possible. The Southside Trail is expected to continue to Glenwood Avenue along Bill Kennedy Way and connect at Piedmont Park. Accessibility and eco-friendly transportation is the idea behind making the trail one continuous loop. 

Higgs says that he wants citizens in the nearby areas to be able to have a job in their area where they don’t have to commute far, if not at all. 

“That’s part of the superpower of the BeltLine,” Higgs said. “It’s about workforce development, it’s about economic development, it’s about infrastructure, it’s about mobility, it’s about affordable housing, public art all rolled up into this thing we describe as the Atlanta BeltLine.” 

While there are plenty of positive outcomes of the new addition, one concern with the BeltLine and its new developments in the rate of housing and how it could affect the current residences of the area. With the new developments, rates around the area are expected to increase as with a shift in what the community will look like. 

Higgs and ABI. are expected to have the entire 22-mile loop completed by the end of 2030. They look forward to the expansion and the multiple opportunities to come with it. 

 

Atlanta BeltLine Southside Trail Ribbon Cutting. (Photo courtesy of: John Becker)
(Clyde Higgs and members of the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. welcoming the new Southside Trail. Photo Credit: Mya Grant/. The Atlanta Voice)