Atlanta’s BeltLine reshapes the city — and it started as a graduate thesis

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Edgewood Street bridge over the Atlanta BeltLine looking north. (Photos by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and Rob Felt.)

The BeltLine is changing the face of Atlanta.

What was once an old 22-mile stretch of rail corridor circling the city is now a vibrant park system packed with pedestrians, bicyclists, art installations — life, really. It’s spurring all kinds of development along its route.

And the idea came from a Georgia Tech master’s thesis.

It’s impact is the subject an in-depth feature on the Georgia Tech homepage and in the Institute’s News Center.

“I look forward to the next couple of sections of the trail — Westside and Southwest — opening,” said Kari Watkins, a School of Civil and Environmental Engineering assistant professor and a member of the BeltLine’s technical advisory committee. “As it does, we’re going to see more people using it as a transportation corridor, not just a recreational corridor.”

She’s especially excited about plans to include a streetcar along the BeltLine corridor.

“Having a streetcar network that connects into the city and around the Beltline will help so much without having to drag your car out every time you want to get from point A to point B,” she said. “And the majority of those biking would prefer to be on a trail instead of navigating treacherous city streets.”

Read more about the genesis of the BeltLine, that master’s student’s original ideas for the corridor, and how the project is literally changing the city around it.