Beltline Eastside Trail extension work begins in May; Krog and DeKalb intersection will be fun to watch

‘The term ‘bottleneck’ comes to mind’

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We have good news and bad news. The good: Fans of the Atlanta Beltline Eastside Trail will start seeing work crews extend the popular paved path’s rocky segment south of Irwin Street as early as next month. The bad, depending on how you look at it: once the trail opens, the intersection of Krog Street and DeKalb Avenue on a sunny Saturday afternoon might become a congested pocket of people. 

Atlanta Beltline Inc. officials told a packed house at Trees Atlanta on Monday that the start date was approaching for the long-awaited project to extend the Eastside Trail south to DeKalb Avenue and east along DeKalb (here’s the full presentation). Bicyclists and pedestrians will then be directed on to the Krog Street tunnel’s east side walkway and on an expanded 10-foot-wide path along Wylie Street. Ericka Davis, the Beltline’s director of communications, says trail users will also have the option of using Krog’s westside walkway or the tunnel road itself. The trail will then enter the Beltline corridor in Reynoldstown, widen to 14 feet, and extend to Kirkwood Avenue. The total project should take approximately 18 months.

Other tidbits from the meeting are after the jump. 

- The total cost of the trail extension is $5.8 million. To further extend the trail to Memorial drive would cost $6.4 million. Much of that total is for the redesign and removal of Mauldin Street bridge similar to what Beltline officials did with the Ralph McGill Boulevard bridge. 

- Once complete, the trail segment near the intersection of Krog Street and DeKalb Avenue might inspire some people to never use their cars again. Beltline officials plan to build a large staging area at the northwest corner of the intersection to allow people to prepare to cross the busy intersection. To help with that pocket officials will install what’s called a “four-way scramble.” Automobile traffic would stop in all directions to allow bicyclists and pedestrians to travel from the northwest corner to the southeast corner. Here’s an example:

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What could prove tricky is when trail users try to move through the Krog tunnel. Bicyclists and pedestrians will be directed to the east side of the tunnel, which is roughly five to six feet wide, and instructed by signage to dismount their bicycles (you don’t want to disrupt the photo shoots inside the graffiti-covered landmark, after all). “The term ‘bottleneck’ comes to mind,” one community member said. We’ll see how that works out. 

- ABI will also be upgrading the lighting, handrails, and sidewalk surfaces in the tunnel. Pretty! 

- Existing trees along Wylie will be removed to make room for the path but officials plan to replant new ones to replenish the canopy. 

- Near the end of the extension project, Beltline officials will close roughly 100 feet of the Eastside Trail, rip up the concrete, and start building a slight slope so the trail can meet a proposed speed table at Irwin Street to improve pedestrian safety. 
 
- Design work has begun on the proposed Southside Trail, the key segment that would link southwest Atlanta neighborhoods to Atlanta’s east side. That whole process could take 18 to 24 months. Officials would then begin right-of-way acquisition, which Davis says could take 12 to 24 months. Construction would follow. Project officials first plan to spend approximately four months studying whether the trail along Bill Kennedy Way can be located on the eastside of the street that crosses I-20, preventing pedestrians and bicyclists from crossing paths with motorists coming off the interstate. Officials could report their findings in September.
 
NOTE: This post has been updated to add comments from ABI regarding trail users having the option to use both walkways of the Krog tunnel or the road itself. In addition, I corrected an omission error regarding the timeline to build the Southside Trail and added details about additional tunnel improvements that will be made.