Construction for PATH400 – a 5.2-mile multi-use trail running through the heart of Buckhead – will get under way this month. It’s a big moment for Buckhead, and the fact that it comes just three years after this project was proposed speaks volumes about the potential that PATH400 holds for this community. I’ve worked in Buckhead for almost 20 years, and I’ve never seen an effort that has so quickly gained momentum and been embraced so fully.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to that progress, not the least of which is the enormous level of cooperation that we’ve received from all sectors – state and city government, neighborhood associations, local businesses and nonprofit organizations. Hundreds of people have provided input on PATH400, which can slow a project, but in this case brought an energy that has quickly moved us to where we are today.
What is so special about PATH400 that has generated this level of support? What benefits will it bring to Buckhead?
• Opportunities for exercise and recreation. We all know it’s important to be physically active. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always translate into more trips to the gym or more time on the treadmill. But what if you could lace up your tennis shoes, walk out your back door and spend 30 minutes walking or biking a neighborhood trail? People who reported using trails at least once a week were twice as likely to meet physical activity recommendations than people who reported rarely or never using trails according to a study published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2006). PATH400 will give Buckhead residents the opportunity to enjoy a safe, attractive, paved trail that connects the community’s neighborhoods to parks, trails, schools, the Buckhead Business District and ultimately to the Atlanta BeltLine. This project will be a tremendous asset for Buckhead, and could greatly improve residents’ health and well being.
• Economic benefits. Well designed and maintained trails like PATH400 have been proven to increase property values, which is good news for Buckhead homeowners. PATH400 will also support and provide opportunities for local businesses by making them accessible to pedestrians and bikers. It isn’t hard to envision, for example, a family taking an impromptu walk on a summer evening to enjoy a cool treat at the local ice cream shop. As foot traffic increases, businesses will have new opportunities to attract customers that might never have been in reach otherwise. PATH400 will also boost Buckhead’s long-term economic viability by providing a much-needed amenity that will help attract future residents, visitors and businesses.
• Community connections. One of PATH400’s greatest attributes will be the way that it fosters social interaction by creating a safe, attractive public space where people can spend time together. Local garden clubs will have a new venue for practicing their skills. Exercise groups will have a new setting for workouts. Children will have a safe place to learn to ride their bikes. These small, everyday interactions build community in a way that is often underestimated.
So keep an eye out as PATH400 begins to take shape. Construction on the first segment running from Lenox Road at Tower Place to Old Ivy Road will be under way for approximately nine months, wrapping up before the annual holiday traffic increase. Additional phases will begin construction later this year. I encourage you to visit livablebuckhead.org for updates on PATH400, an exciting project that has almost unlimited potential to make Buckhead an even better place to live, work and play.
Denise Starling is executive director of Livable Buckhead, a nonprofit organization with a mission to ensure the long-term vitality and prosperity of Buckhead through community-based strategies and programs. For more information on Livable Buckhead, visit www.livablebuckhead.org.