This story has been updated.
By Gabriel Owens, contributor
During a Monday-evening community meeting, the project manager of the Westside Trail expansion of the Atlanta Beltline told local residents the project is progressing.
“It’s on schedule and on budget,” said Kevin Burke, senior landscape architect and project head. “It will be finished as expected on July 31.”
The Westside Trail is one of the many projects looking to expand the Beltline’s shared-use trails and greenspaces. The Westside Trail is expected to be a 3-mile multi-use trail, consisting of 14-foot wide pathways with 14 access points with over 40 acres of greenway.
“We have planted 1,000 trees, half of our expected number,” Burke said. “The rest will be planted the following season.”
Burke also said the trail between Martin Luther King Bridge and Lionel Hampton Trail has been poured and is setting.
Burke took questions relating to the physical features of the trail from the community members gathered at Families First on Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard. One person asked about the perceived unevenness of the drop of the trail between Murphy and Lee Ave.
“The slope will be regraded, and won’t have any unusual drop off,” Burke said.
Community members expressed concerns about rough surfaces on other trails that made traversing on wheels difficult.
“We heard you, and we’re working to sandblast those similar areas on Westside to smooth them out so as not to cause issues with bikes, skateboards, and the like,” Burke said.
Not all community members were concerned about just the architecture.
“The legacy of the Westside communities is what concerns me,” said Dernell Thomas, a community heritage activist. “Atlanta is known worldwide for its legacy in civil rights and promoting diversity and indigenous culture. I’m afraid these trails are leading to gentrification, and I’m wondering if any of the community leaders are addressing this.”
David Jackson, Deputy Executive Director of the Atlanta Beltline Partnership, fielded that question.
“We have not begun dialogue on this, but are willing to discuss this and all community issues surrounding the Beltline and the new trail,” he said. “I will bring this up soon so we may create a meaningful conversation with everybody.”
Further information about this project can be found at www.beltline.org.