Brookhaven’s trek to build its portion of the Peachtree Creek Greenway is one step closer. The City Council awarded a $7.99 million contract to Lewallen Construction Co. at its Oct. 23 meeting to build the first phase of the project between North Druid Hills and Briarwood roads.

No firm date for a groundbreaking of the first section of the Greenway was given, but city officials said they hope to see it happen before the end of the year. The first phase is required by contract to be completed in 270 days after actual construction begins.

Mayor John Ernst praised the council and city staff for reaching the point of awarding a contract. He said he and the rest of the council campaigned on or supported the Greenway when seeking office.

The red dots indicate where the Peachtree Creek Greenway is slated to go; the green dots are part of planned PATH400 trails.

He also said the city’s work to secure hotel-motel tax hike last year through the General Assembly to pay for the Greenway was a creative funding mechanism not done anywhere else in the state.

“I think this will be revolutionary for transit in Brookhaven and the region … and will be a model for other cities,” Ernst said.

Money to pay for construction contract is coming from a recently approved $12.4 million revenue bond. The bond is being paid off using the additional hotel-motel tax revenue created by the tax increase approved last year. The revenue bond gives the city an immediate cash flow and the flexibility to build out the the entire Greenway rapidly rather than using limited capital project funding each year and constructing only small pieces at a time, city officials said.

The Greenway is a 12-mile multi-use trail that is planned to connect Brookhaven to Chamblee, Doraville and to Mercer University in unincorporated DeKalb. The trail will be 14-feed wide and constructed from concrete.

The Greenway is also expected to connect to PATH400 in Buckhead and eventually to the Atlanta BeltLine.

The first section between North Druid Hills and Briarwood Roads is the central link of Brookhaven’s approximate 3-mile portion of the entire Greenway. The other segments would extend south to a planned section of PATH400 in Buckhead and north to Corporate Square.

The first section of the Greenway is now just a gravel road used by DeKalb County trucks and crews to check on a sanitary sewer pipe that runs under the property. The area if filled with trees and large patches of bamboo. At different portions along the gravel road, the back of Northeast Plaza and Jackson Square Condominiums can be seen.

The multi-use path is in part designed to help employees of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offices in Corporate Square or Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta get out of cars and get off heavily congested roads and onto bicycles as part of their commute, Betsy Eggers, chair of the Peachtree Creek Greenway advocacy group, has explained.

The Greenway is expected to also boost economic development along Buford Highway, Ernst said. “First and foremost, this is providing transit,” he said.

City Manager Christian Sigman said state legislators agreed with the city the Greenway would become a regional and tourist attraction, making it eligible for the hotel-motel tax funds.

Councilmember Joe Gebbia said awarding the contract was a “historic” moment for the city. The Greenway will become the first green space in District 4 in south Brookhaven, he noted.

Marietta-based Lewallen Construction has constructed other trail projects, including the Silver Comet Trail in Paulding and Polk counties, the Arabia Mountain Trail and PATH400 in Buckhead.

The PATH Foundation will oversee construction of the first phase. The city hired the PATH Foundation last year to engineer the first section of the Greenway.

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.