At this point, the idea seems as old as time: branching the Atlanta BeltLine loop out to the grandaddy of metro Atlanta multipurpose pathways, the Silver Comet Trail.
But that important connection—perhaps the most crucial gap to be filled for a truly regional trail network around Atlanta—is showing encouraging signs of life.
The Cobb County Board of Commissioners this week unanimously approved a $7.8 million contract with C.W. Matthews Contracting Company, a Marietta-based firm, for road and bridge improvements that would fill one of three missing segments between the BeltLine and Silver Comet trails. Funding is being sourced from 2016 and 2022 SPLOST coffers, the Cobb County Courier reports.
The Cobb County Department of Transportation plans to work alongside PATH Foundation, beginning this summer, to construct a new portion of the Silver Comet, beginning where Atlanta Road meets plant Atkinson Road in Smyrna and connecting down to the Chattahoochee River. That segment crosses over Interstate 285, south of the Cumberland area and The Battery Atlanta. [CLARIFICATION: 12:20 p.m., May 11: A future extension of the trail will cross I-285, but not the recently funded segment in question.]
The scope of the work will include rehab of an Atlanta Road bridge over CSX railroad tracks, a new median to separate traffic, repaving, and other upgrades. The trail section will run along the west side of Atlanta Road, between Plant Atkinson Road and the river, according to Cobb County DOT.
PATH officials plan to hire a contractor and build the next 2.3 miles of the Silver Comet from Plant Atkinson Road toward the existing trail once land has been acquired from CSX. The train company okayed a land transfer of its former railway to the State of Georgia five years ago—but that deal’s been held up in legal limbo since.
According to the Silver Comet’s website, the trail begins today about 13 miles northwest of Atlanta and travels for a whopping 61.5 miles through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. At the Alabama line, it links with the paved Chief Ladiga Trail, another former railroad line, and runs for an additional 33 miles.
For further reading, advocacy group Connect the Comet provides a detailed breakdown of efforts to branch the BeltLine out to the Silver Comet and ways people can get involved.
According to that group, the central portion of the trail gap that received Cobb County funding this week is scheduled to finish construction sometime in 2024.
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