U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff announced $5 million in federal funding to help complete the Southside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine at an April 20 press conference near the multiuser trail. With him are business and civic leaders. (Dyana Bagby)

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff announced April 20 he secured $5 million in federal funding to help complete the Southside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine.

The $5 million is on top of a more than $16 million federal grant awarded last year to go toward completing the critical link that will eventually connect the Eastside and Westside Trails. The Atlanta Regional Commission also awarded $4 million in federal funding in 2021 for construction of the Southside Trail.

The Southside Trail is approximately four miles and is the critical link between the Eastside and Westside Trails. Nearly one mile is paved, at the Pittsburgh Yards co-working space. Federal funding is expected to complete about two more miles of the trail, identified as segments 2 and 3 on the map. (Atlanta Beltline Inc.)

“This is a new $5 million investment to accelerate and advance the completion of the Southside Trail,” Ossoff said at a press conference along the first completed portion of the Southside Trail. The nearly 1-mile paved portion of the trail is adjacent to co-working space Pittsburgh Yards at 352 University Ave. SW.

“These resources will help to support this extraordinary infrastructure project, which is a key part of Metro Atlanta’s future and vital to the development of a city of connected communities, thriving together, living healthy lives with a high standard of living, access to education, access to nutrition, access to entrepreneurial opportunities, connecting families with schools, families with small businesses and with affordable housing,” Ossoff said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and Atlanta Beltline Inc. CEO Clyde Higgs, center, talk as they walk along the unfinished stretch of the Southside Trail near the I-75/I-85 overpass. (Dyana Bagby)

Atlanta BeltLine Inc. CEO Clyde Higgs said the federal funding will go a long way toward ensuring equitable development and finishing a key segment of the BeltLine. When finished, the BeltLine will be a 22-mile loop encircling the city’s core and connecting dozens of neighborhoods. Another 11 miles of spur trails are also planned. The BeltLine is one of the largest urban redevelopment projects in the country.

“Infrastructure, unfortunately, has the legacy of separating communities,” Higgs said. “And we have the opportunity to use this infrastructure … to reconnect, restitch, reknit, 45 distinct neighborhoods.”

The federal funding coupled with money raised from the new BeltLine tax district ensures the nearly $5 billion project that began in 2005 will be done by its 2030 deadline, Higgs said. That includes the promised 5,600 affordable housing units, he said.

“This is the first time in history that we actually have line of sight to be able to finish the BeltLine project by the end of 2030,” Higgs said.

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Dyana Bagby

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