DOT action could kill Beltline, angry mayor says

27 01 2009

 

ARIEL HART | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

City of Atlanta officials are fuming over a move by the state Department of Transportation and Amtrak that they say could kill the Beltline, a planned 22-mile loop of transit, parks and trails around the city’s core.

The dispute centers on part of the land the Beltline would need.

Georgia DOT and Amtrak have united against the city and the Norfolk Southern rail company to oppose abandonment of a key northeast part of the corridor, according to a letter Mayor Shirley Franklin wrote to Rep. John Lewis. The abandonment would enable redevelopment.

“GDOT has acted to thwart the Beltline and with it jeopardized Atlanta’s ability to plan and accommodate the growth we know is coming in the next several decades,” Franklin wrote.

She said DOT’s actions would put noisy heavy rail, such as Amtrak trains, in inappropriate environments like neighborhoods near Piedmont Park, “at the expense of the Beltline.”

She called DOT’s behavior “boorish” and said that “the future of the city of Atlanta is at stake.”

DOT officials said the state’s actions are no threat to the Beltline.

DOT spokesman David Spear said that DOT remained “completely, totally supportive” of the Beltline and that it was possible to follow both DOT’s plans and the city’s plans for the Beltline.

Atlanta officials have hoped the Beltline will seed a rebirth in close-in Atlanta areas by attracting dense, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of homes, businesses and entertainment within walking distance from mass transit stops.

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