by: Richard Elliot Updated:ATLANTA —
The Atlanta Beltline project is still alive and well despite losing close to $600 million with the defeat of the state’s transportation referendum, according to Beltline officials.
But those officials said the transportation component of the project could be delayed now by up to ten years without the transportation referendum, or TSPLOST.
The Beltline is a 22-mile loop around the city connecting more than 40 in-town neighborhoods with walking trails, parks and eventually, by either light rail or streetcars.
“TSPLOST was not a funding source that was ever contemplated when the Atlanta Beltline got started,” said Beltline Communications Director Ethan Davidson.
Some politicians and pundits wondered if the death of TSPLOST might spell doom for the Beltline, but Davidson said the project’s original and primary source of funding comes from a tax allocation district (TAD).
“That tax allocation district will provide over $1 billion over the course of 25 years and is very much intact,” said Davidson. “So with that in mind, the transportation referendum would have been an accelerant for the project, bringing transit to a reality perhaps 10 years earlier than would have been possible.”
In addition to the TAD, Davidson said the project has raised $40 million in private donations and $25 million from federal funds.
Davidson also pointed out transportation was only one component of the Beltline project. He said the other components, including trails, green space and affordable housing, remain strong. He estimates the walking and biking trail from the Old Fourth Ward neighborhood to Piedmont Park might be ready as soon as September.
Since its inception, Beltline officials said the project has attracted $1 billion of private investment along with more than 12,000 new residential units and one million square feet of non-residential development.
“We have absolute confidence the Atlanta Beltline is going to continue to change the face of the city and make Atlanta a much better place to live,” said Davidson.