Next spring a trail linking Midtown, Virginia-Highland, Poncey Highland, Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park will open along an old rail corridor with cool, secluded city views.
Phase one of the Eastside Trail -- which includes a 2.5-mile concrete path that will connect three parks: , Freedom Park and -- should be complete in April, Atlanta BeltLine spokesman Ethan Davidson said Wednesday.
"It's been a very interesting project so far," he said. The BeltLine earlier this year, fencing off various portions to complete the work. The trail will run from 10th Street and Monroe Drive to DeKalb Avenue. The PATH Foundation has served as the construction manager for the project.
Among the improvements is the installation of an underground utility duct that will prime the trail for future infrastructure and perhaps one day provide the BeltLine with a revenue source, Davidson said. Utility companies could lease space in the underground duct, he said.
Other work has included installing retaining walls to stabilize the corridor and prepping the land for the concrete trail and future transit lines.
Crews have met unexpected challenges along the way, Davidson said.
"We're working in an approximately 100-year-old rail corridor," he said, calling the project "part archeological dig, part construction." It's been a decade or more since trains were active in the corridor.
Among the "little surprises," workers unearthed old utilities and drainage pipes that weren't shown on surveys. One broken pipe this fall caused a portion of the corridor to collapse into the parking lot of the Midtown Promenade shopping center, Davidson said. Those repairs cost crews about two weeks, he said.
Workers also dug up multiple layers of old railroad infrastructure, Davidson said, estimating crews found about 1,200 cross ties buried in the ground.
"They basically just built layer after layer in this corridor," he said.” We’ve been able to save a lot of it."
Davidson said the plan is to integrate some of the rail artifacts -- like old switches and cross ties -- into the corridor's design.
He expects workers to begin pouring concrete for the trail in January. In a few weeks, he said restoration work could begin on the old railroad bridge over Ponce de Leon Avenue. Crews will remove lead paint from the bridge, as well as ensure its stability, he said.
Tree planting and other landscaping will be one of the last tasks. Trees Atlanta is helping to coordinate those activities, Davidson said.
"We're happy we are getting toward the end of it," he said.