CSX and the City of Atlanta are proving that some old rail corridors never die, they just keep connecting.
Railroad and city officials announced at a joint press conference March 15 that CSX had agreed to sell 4.5 miles of inactive rail corridor, covering 63 acres, to become a key segment in the Atlanta BeltLine project, which eventually will encircle the city with 22 miles of trails, transit and parks.
“Since the Atlanta BeltLine was first conceived nearly 20 years ago, CSX has worked to support the vision behind it — the vision of a more connected community, with sustainable growth opportunities and efficient transportation solutions,” said Craig Camuso, CSX regional vice president, who spoke at the media event.
CSX has participated in numerous high-profile projects for repurposing abandoned or underused rail property, including the High Line linear park in New York, for example. But the Atlanta project may be setting an even higher standard.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms noted that the Atlanta BeltLine project is the largest and most-comprehensive urban redevelopment effort ever undertaken by the city and one of the most-ambitious projects of its kind in the nation.
In thanking CSX for its cooperation on the initiative, Bottoms noted that the 4.5-mile corridor, purchased for $25.8 million, represents by far the largest piece of the BeltLine’s Southside Trail segment. It connects 18 neighborhoods, five schools and three parks, and includes five bridges and three tunnels, one of which is a 120-year-old original stone railroad tunnel.
Atlanta BeltLine representatives said they expect removing old rail and ties from corridor will take approximately six months, and they plan to open it as an interim hiking by the end of the year. Fully developing the corridor with paving, stairs and retaining walls will take several years, they said.