Georgia Rail Planners Abandon Beltline Takeover

Conflict resolved over whether to use abandoned right-of-way for high-speed rail or local transit

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia’s department of transportation has agreed to route future intercity rail service along the existing rail corridor running west of the city’s north-south Downtown Connector, rather than along the alignment of the proposed Beltline they proposed last month. This move saves the park and trails project and will allow its planning to continue.

In late January, I reported that the state of Georgia, working with Amtrak, was eying the northeast quadrant of the Beltline for its own use, claiming that the corridor would be important for rail services to Atlanta’s suburbs and to other cities (including Southeast High-Speed Rail). Mayor Shirley Franklin was infuriated by the power grab, which came late in the game since the Beltline has been under consideration for many years now, and since the city’s planners bought the corridor last year for $66 million. Rail planners suggested that the only feasible route for intercity rail was along the Beltline, and argued that they had no choice but to take over the alignment.

But as Matt over as Track Twenty-Nine demonstrated in a threepart post, Amtrak had plenty of alternatives that would work just fine without disrupting the path of the Beltline. It appears that Georgia’s planners now agree. Now Atlanta can get back to business.

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