Beltline debuts east side trail

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ATLANTA - A new section along Atlanta’s Beltline trail network made its debut Monday.

The two-and-a-quarter-mile concrete path connects midtown’s Piedmont Park to Inman Park further south. On Monday, Mayor Kasim Reed and other local leaders cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the path. Reed even tested out the new east side trail on a bicycle.

With the latest addition, the Beltline now stretches five-and-a-half miles across the city. The other two big sections now open include a two-and-a-half mile stretch in southwest Atlanta and a one-mile stretch near Piedmont Hospital. City leaders said its economic impact reaches nearly $1 billion.

"Today, we're not merely opening a new trail or special public space. We're showing what is possible for the future of our city, for future of our community. The Atlanta Beltline is connecting our city as it has never been connected before," Reed said.

He said since 2005 there has been $775 million in new development within a half-mile of the Beltline trail.

"I've said this could be the best thing to happen to Atlanta. I've changed that, I think this is the single best project of its kind in the United States," said Cox Enterprises CEO Jim Kennedy.

Kennedy, who heads Channel 2’s parent company, has helped raise nearly $40 million in private donations to go with the public investment in the Atlanta Beltline. He said about a quarter of the 22-mile loop is complete.

"There's so much left to be done. We all need to keep up our efforts, never let down efforts until this is finished," Kennedy said.