Pictured from left to right: Dr. Eloisa Klementich, CEcD, President and CEO, Invest Atlanta; Rob Brawner, Executive Director, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership; Aretta Baldon, Atlanta Public Schools Board Member, District 2; Byron Amos, City of Atlanta Councilmember, District 3; Mayor Andre Dickens, City of Atlanta; Clyde Higgs, President and CEO, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc.; Zena Scott Williams, Washington Manor resident; Natalie Hall, Fulton County Commissioner, District 4; Reverend Dr. Gerald L. Durley; Matt Westmoreland, City of Atlanta Councilmember, Post 2 At Large; Doug Shipman, Atlanta City Council President. (Photo by Erin Sintos)

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. leaders and community members broke ground yesterday on the 1.3-mile stretch of the BeltLine’s Westside Trail connecting Washington Park to Bankhead/Historic Westin Heights.

Once Segment 4 is finished it will represent the longest continuous section of paved trail along the BeltLine. People will be able to travel 6.5 miles on paved trails from Pittsburgh Yards in the southwest to Huff Road in West Midtown to the northwest and to Downtown Atlanta, going through some of Atlanta’s most historic neighborhoods.

“As we break ground on the last major segment of the Westside Trail, we are creating a bridge between the past and present in Atlanta,”Mayor Andre Dickens said at the groundbreaking. “The Westside Trail ultimately closes the loop from Downtown Atlanta through Vine City and English Avenue and connects Washington Park to Bankhead and Historic Westin Heights. This segment embodies my goal for a city of safe, healthy, connected neighborhoods that also symbolizes African American history and showcases Atlanta’s ongoing growth and innovation to create a city built for the future.”

The Westside Trail – Segment 4 starts at the western boundary of the Washington Park neighborhood, founded 100 years ago as a trailblazing Black suburb and the proud home of Atlanta’s first greenspace that provided key recreational amenities for an African American community. The park is a vital component of the Atlanta BeltLine’s “emerald necklace,” a network of public greenspaces connected by the BeltLine.

“With the Westside Trail, we’re creating a brighter tomorrow for all who call Atlanta home,” Clyde Higgs, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., said at the ceremony. “It’s an important part of our 22-mile trail network, and we’re excited that our vision is coming to completion. We estimate the BeltLine will be 80 percent completed or under construction in the next two years.”

To date, 9.3 miles of the 22-mile BeltLine mainline trail loop are complete. In addition, 10.3 miles of connector trails have been completed that tie directly into current and future segments of the BeltLine mainline trail. Construction on Westside Trail – Segment 4 is expected to be complete in the summer of 2025.

“As a 14-year homeowner in Historic Washington Park, and having watched (and enjoyed!) the Eastside BeltLine boom, to FINALLY see our segment take physical shape is exciting for our families and Westside neighborhoods,” said Zena Scott, a resident of Washington Manor. “We’re anticipating this extension to attract new business, restaurants and increase walkability!”

Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., and the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership collaborated with multiple partners to start construction on this section of trail. Partners include: Atlanta Public Schools, City of Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, City of Atlanta Department of City Planning, City of Atlanta Department of Transportation, City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management, Fulton County, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Power, MARTA, Invest Atlanta, The Conservancy at Historic Washington Park, Special Service District investors, and Trees Atlanta.

Trail design was led by Alta with subcontractors Sherwood Design Engineers, Sastry and Associates, Planners for Environmental Quality, TerraMark, United Consulting, Roosevelt Powell and Associates, Palacio Collaborative, Grice Consulting Group, Arborguard Tree Specialists, and Long Engineering. Astra Group is the construction firm.

Lead philanthropic support to complete the full BeltLine corridor comes from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Inc. and The James M. Cox Foundation.

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.