Though not as poised for a rail line as the northeast segment of the Beltline, transit along the southeast quadrant should be close behind. Right now, though, Beltline officials need to intensely focus on obtaining the southwest right-of-way.
The sometimes bucolic, sometimes gritty stretch of tracks that connect Reynoldstown to Ormewood Park to Grant Park to Capitol View Manor to Adair Park snakes for approximately six miles past old warehouses and underneath interstates. It's still owned by CSX, and Beltline officials seem to have put its acquisition on the back burner thanks to funding woes and other projects. It's time to revisit the matter.
Should Beltline officials broker a deal with the shipping company and acquire the right-of-way, they could mirror what happened along the project's northeast segment, which is frequently used by power walkers, weekend urban hikers, cyclists and artists. Not only would ABI then control three of the project's four segments — creating a J-shape that could link West Enders to Piedmont Park — but officials could leverage the street-art paradise into a public-art hot spot. Beltline supporters have been imagining that scenario for quite some time.
Today the rail line serves only one customer — French concrete company Lafarge, which maintains a plant along the tracks near Glenwood Park. Sources tell CL that Lafarge has been willing to discuss relocating its facility to another part of the city with similar access to rail service and interstates. But it's not far-fetched to imagine Lafarge remaining in the area and transporting shipments on the same light-rail transit tracks at night. Volkswagen does just that at an innovative automotive plant in Dresden, Germany.Note: The headline of this article has been changed to correct an error about the number of people who live near the southeast segment. The area along the Beltline between Lindbergh and northwest Atlanta is the project's second most populous.