News Stories

South River Phase 1B Underway

South River TrailAfter a decade of delays, PATH crews are finally under construction on the South River Trail, Phase 1B between the Gresham Park Recreation Center and the Decatur campus of Georgia Perimeter College (GPC). The trail will be an extension of the existing South River Trail between Intrenchment Creek and Gresham Park built in 2010.

The three mile-long trail will weave through Sugar Creek Golf Course, cross under I-285, connect into Cedar Grove Middle School and the Georgia State University baseball practice field before ending at GPC. Future phases already being designed will extend the trail to Waldrop Road. The completed South River Trail will connect the 33 mile-long Arabia Mountain PATH system to the Atlanta BeltLine at Boulevard Crossing.

Phase 1B was funded by the Transportation Enhancement Program administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation, DeKalb County HOST, and your donations to PATH. This segment of the trail is costing $2,100,000 to build. Construction began November 15th with an anticipated completion date of May 1, 2015.

MORE TRAILS IN CONYERS

PATH is delighted to renew a partnership with the City of Conyers to extend the Olde Town Conyers Trail. The extension will begin at the existing trail near the library on Greene Street and continue north and east through Olde Town, two elementary schools, Rockdale County High School, and into Pine Log Park. Several spur trails to adjacent neighborhoods will encourage walking and biking to the three schools located along the new trail.

This segment of the Olde Town Conyers Trail will be funded in part by the City’s SPLOST fund and your donations to PATH. The Rockdale County Board of Education is considering a request to help with the project as well. Survey work along the corridor will begin shortly after the first of the year, followed by design, engineering, and permitting. Construction could start later in 2014 if there are no issues with funding and permitting.

Presently, the Olde Town Conyers Trail connects the library on Greene Street in downtown Conyers with Wheeler Park, the Rockdale Career Academy, and Johnson Park. PATH and Rockdale County have plans to connect the southern end of the trail to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and the Arabia Mountain PATH.

DIVIDED BY HIGHWAYS

243305_721268151148_46707504_36351071_2068227_o (2)A few of my biking buddies contacted me recently regarding the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) plans to widen Georgia 400 north of I-285. The initial design does not include provisions for extending the PATH400 trail we are presently building in Buckhead. It is important that we can convince them otherwise.

It was 1991 when the founders of PATH approached GDOT and requested they revise their plans to build Georgia 400 between I-85 and I-285 to include provisions for pedestrians and cyclists. The answer back then was a definite NO, since the right-of-way had been purchased and plans completed.

I will cut GDOT some slack for the decision not to include us with that first 400 segment. They were in a heated battle with adjacent neighbors, the media, and elected officials for plowing through north Buckhead with a four-lane highway. Today’s young folks who favor biking and walking to car travel weren’t there to show support. Transportation professionals were designing everything as though the car was the only way to go anywhere. In short, PATH was a small club advocating for a transportation mode that most associated with their childhood or racing in France.

Fast forward to 2014 when young people are flocking to walkable, bikeable communities followed by corporations who wish to employ them. Cities are selling themselves to industry and businesses based on how walkable and bikeable they are. Most new development includes design elements that calm traffic such as medians, on-street bike facilities, narrower lanes, and islands. New development is aimed at lessening the intrusion cars have on us as pedestrians and cyclists. The car is not king anymore. People are taking back the streets.

So only a little ‘shame on GDOT’ for not advancing a Georgia 400 widening project that includes an extension of the PATH400 trail. They still have time to get it right. All of us who look forward to a metro area where walking and cycling is a safe alternative for commuting and getting about the city just need to speak up.

There is a much bigger issue to address here. GDOT also has plans to reconstruct the Georgia 400/I-285 interchange. Shouldn’t there be a bike/ped component to that project as well? Isn’t it time we connect the city on a human scale and bridge the giant highways that segment our city into islands only reachable by car? The 400/285 interchange and the widening of Georgia 400 would be a great place to start. So here are my suggestions for GDOT to consider:

1. Hire a bicycle facility design expert as part of the design team for these projects.

2. Acquire enough right-of-way along Georgia 400 to allow for trail construction; revise plans to provide right-of-way for a safe, continuous shared-use trail alongside the new project.

3. Design a safe, continuous shared-use trail through the new interchange of Georgia 400 and I-285. This would include a crossing of both Georgia 400 and I-285.

4. Adopt the PATH400 design standards for the project.

I am aware GDOT by-laws preclude gasoline taxes from being used for separated bike/ped facilities. If GDOT can’t build the trail once it separates from the interchange, at least they can provide space for it. We are pretty good at finding ways to get things built if the right-of-way is reserved.

These facilities would join Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody, and the City of Atlanta in a whole new way. I contend people would jump at the chance to bike or walk to their jobs at Perimeter or Northside Hospital if the highways didn’t cut them off. How many people live less than a mile away from their job in this area, separated from work by one of these highways?

GDOT has been a pretty good partner to PATH over the years. They have left room for the Silver Comet Trail within the right-of-way of US 278 west of Rockmart; included us on the US 41Road Bridge over the Chattahoochee River, and let us share their right-of-way along Georgia 400 for the new PATH400 Trail through Buckhead. I am suggesting they take their cooperation and forethought to a new level. Let’s build PATH400 through the I-285 interchange and beyond to provide for a transportation mode embraced by new generations. Maybe they won’t ever need to widen the highway again. Maybe next time, we will be widening the trail!

 

DESTINATION: COP

Bikeshare could be used at COP bike depot.

Bikeshare could be used at COP bike depot.

For twenty-three years, PATH has been developing a system of greenway trails and cycle tracks that radiate from the city into the suburbs. Our partnership with Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. has produced several segments of the Atlanta BeltLine which will soon circle the city with a trail worthy of national recognition. Now that the PATH trails and Atlanta BeltLine Trail are taking shape, it is time to plan for the hub at Centennial Olympic Park (COP) to create the most fantastic trail network in the country. In order to have a vibrant, successful hub, the spokes of the system need to feel safe and lead to desirable destinations. The spokes we are presently developing meet the criteria:

John Portman Boulevard (Stone Mountain Trail Extension into downtown): PATH began developing the trail between Atlanta and Stone Mountain in 1993 in an effort to build a trail between the Olympic venues at Georgia Tech and Stone Mountain Park. This trail weaves through Freedom Park and continues along Highland Street to Piedmont Avenue and Baker Street, connecting the Eastside BeltLine Trail to downtown. PATH, in partnership with Central Atlanta Progress, and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District is presently extending this trail as a separated cycling facility into Centennial Olympic Park by eliminating a travel lane from John Portman Boulevard. This spoke will reach Centennial Olympic Park in 2015.

Westside Trail: In 1994, PATH and the City of Atlanta partnered to build the Westside Trail between Mosley Park and the Ashby Street MARTA station. The same partnership is utilizing a Transportation Enhancement allocation to extend

this trail through Vine City to the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, including a spur to Atlanta University Center. PATH, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Georgia World Congress Center plan to extend the trail from Northside Drive through the old dome site into COP This trail will link southwest Atlanta and the Westside BeltLine Trail (being developed) into the hub at COP.

Cycle Track from West Midtown: The PATH design team is presently working with Georgia Tech, Coca-Cola, and the City of Atlanta to design a cycle track and pedestrian way from Northside Drive, along the Georgia Tech Parkway and Luckie Street into the park. The preliminary design involves converting the southbound Tech Parkway into a cycle track and wide pedestrian walkway and converting the northbound side of the Parkway into a two-way road. The preliminary plan also includes a cycle track on Luckie Street into COP. This spoke could be constructed in 2015 assuming the partners agree on a plan early next year. Centennial Park officials have suggested a circumferential cycle track around the park to connect the radial trails.

In preparation for these great connections into the city, PATH has been meeting with Centennial Park officials to determine the best location and design components for the hub. The PATH/COP partnership will refine the concept during 2015. Possible components of the hub include Atlanta’s bike-share program, water, air, and covered parking.

The PATH vision for the Centennial Park hub is a place where visitors to downtown can rent a bike and travel through the city and around the BeltLine. It would also be a place where Atlantans can ride in from surrounding neighborhoods, park their bikes, and visit the incredible venues around the park. There would be a new reason to go downtown: a bike trip to get there.

By the Spring of 2016, PATH and its partners will be directing thousands of cyclists into Centennial Olympic Park along John Portman Boulevard and Luckie Street. Soon after, even more bicycles will arrive from west Atlanta through the old dome site. It is time we prepared for their arrival!

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