One of these days, an extension of the Silver Comet Trail will be constructed on the discarded rail line between Mavell Road and the Atlanta BeltLine. When this day comes, the Connect the Comet advocacy group should be hoisted onto chariots and pulled down the trail to throngs of cheering citizens all the wayto Atlanta! This group has been the main source of energy behind the movement to connect the 63 mile-long Silver Comet Trail with downtown Atlanta and the Atlanta BeltLine on the CSX-owned corridor for several years.
For reasons unknown, CSX Transportation refuses to consider abandoning this 5.5 miles of unused track that once connected the rail yard in downtown Atlanta to Rockmart, Cedartown, Anniston, and Birmingham, Alabama. Since Georgia Power’s Plant Atkinson converted from coal to natural gas in 2010, the line has been out-of-service between Mavell Road and Collier Road. The focus of the advocacy group has been to encourage CSX to abandon it and sell or donate it for the trail.
The corridor is by far the preferred route for connecting the Comet to the city with its tunnel under I-285 and bridges over Atlanta Road, Moores Mill Road, DeFoors Ferry, and the Chattahoochee River. Any other route would require multiple bridges or tunnels and miles of right-of-way through residential and industrial neighborhoods. Obtaining this corridor for the Comet is well worth the effort.
Connect the Comet is chaired by Wendell Burks, an Atlanta native who has a passion for rail trails. “Trails built on rail beds use historic, level routes to reconnect communities, provide safe hiking and biking venues, and spur economic development everywhere they are developed,” said Wendell. “I am confident that finishing the Silver Comet into Atlanta will do all this and more.”
Roberta Cook, a fellow director and the ‘Energizer bunny’ of the group, has been relentless in her effort to persuade elected officials and prominent business people to contact CSX on behalf of the cause. The group collected over 3000 names on a petition addressed to the Governor and state house representatives to request abandonment by CSX. The group has done everything imaginable to advance the rails-to-trails proposal to design and construction.
If you wish to join their effort, contact them at connectthecomet.org. Someone from the group will gladly acquaint you with the corridor and find a way for you to become involved. This is a proposal worthy of your time and effort.