Beltline Rail Now Calendar
Separation of bikes and scooters from pedestrians where space allows.

Boulevard to Glenwood - Intersection Planning

That's My Bike founder Homer Hammonds talks with Shan, Zang and Justin about bikeways and electric bikes.

Eyeballing a future bike crossing location at Glenwood Avenue and Boulevard Drive where
intersection improvements could eliminate traffic congestion while improving bike and pedestrian facilities.

Georgia Tech Multimodal Transit students created the following Complete Streets Analysis to allow for
better rail connectivity on Bill Kennedy Way, and safer bike/scooter paths separate from pedestrians and cars.
View the Grant Park to Glenwood Complete Streets Analysis

MARTA Board Meeting - Complete Streets Input

Thurs 1:30 PM – 3 PM, September 6, 2018

MARTA Beltline Rail Connectivity Planning - Recommended Priorities

Priority #1 - Add an underpass at Hulsey Yard for Beltline rail and bikes adjacent to the Krog Street Tunnel. Thereby run Beltline rail from Lindbergh Station to Memorial Drive at the new theater and Publix. Connect via bus 21 direct to Five Points Station, and later to Oakland City Station by completing the Beltline rail loop following widening of I-20 overpass. Establish partnerships with local businesses to provide free local electric transit on Memorial, Auburn and Edgewood to MLK Station. Thereby avoid streetcars in traffic.

Priority #2 - Create a “Bike Boulevard” on Auburn Avenue with local resident car access at the MLK Jr National Historical Park. The park director is interested in a car-free street, but residents would like to retain driving access. Design as a Woonerf. What's A Woonerf? The Streetscape Design That's Sweeping DC

Woonerfs are a street design popular in historic areas of the Netherlands. Often paved with bricks, they allow for slow car access mixed with bikes, pedestrians and local shuttles. Such a “Shared Street” design could provide a dependable neighborhood electric vehicle route to connect riders from Krog Street Market to the MLK MARTA Station.

Priority #3 - Follow the GDOT Complete Street Guidelines in adding additional bike facilities by setting aside space for a separate, narrower side trail when adding rail to the Beltline corridor (retain a minimum 14’ walking path throughout). The existing east trail has space for two-way rail plus a new 10’ side path for bikes and scooters on the opposite side of the corridor. The multi-use trail on the east side of the Beltline frequently exceeds a safe capacity.

The following principles from GDOT’s Complete Streets Guidelines provide strong justification for increasing the current Beltline bicycle accommodations with a safe side bike path to accommodate the current high levels of mixed usage and anticipated increase in electric personal vehicles and shared mobility.

Georgia Design Manual - Complete Streets Guidelines: The design and construction of new facilities should anticipate likely demand for bicycling and pedestrian facilities within the design life of the facility. The design of new and reconstructed roadways should not preclude the future accommodation of bicyclists and pedestrians along and across corridors. Please don’t preclude eScooters and eBikes.

An additional benefit of a side bike path: Easy access for emergency vehicles during crowded trail use.

Priority #4 - Provide shuttles for Beltline transit where the current budget does not allow for rail within the next five years by using the following two options: (1) add a separate side bike path shared with two-seat wide shuttle service, or (2) share the paved beltline path with a two-seat wide shuttle service where pedestrian usage is not congested. See May Mobility Vehicles in use in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan.

Allow space for future rail when adding side bike paths. Focus on catenary-free, three-seat wide tram-style trains.

Loren Heyns - Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Tech
Contact:   678.468.1000

Alternative to Hulsey Tunnel

The Beltline tram could continue from Krog Street Market to the MLK MARTA Station and Memorial Drive. Avoids congested Edgewood Avenue. Creates a woonerf “shared street” design on Auburn Avenue for local residents, bikes and tram vehicles which are narrower than streetcars. (Three seats wide instead of four.) Uses either an elevated loop at the Krog Street Market parking lot, or a rail bridge over Irwin Street enabling trams from the Beltline to turn east to Auburn Street at the same level as the StudioPlex parking lot.

Near-term projects

Siemens Avenio Tram - built in Europe.  Someday Georgia?

Catenary-free. Separation of paths where space allows.

Atlanta streetcar connecting Auburn/Edgewood to downtown.

1. Use the entrance of StudioPlex to connect the Auburn Avenue streetcar to Krog Street Market, thereby avoiding busy traffic on Irwin Street. Add ramps on each side of the Krog Street Market parking lot to connect the tramway to Auburn Avenue.

2. Use Freedrive power systems, or similar 20 second ultracapacitor charging, to avoid overhead wires and save costs. (Existing Siemens streetcars can optionally be upgraded.)

3. Use 1.5' narrower trains (trams), similar to the Siemens Avenio Tram, on the Beltline and Historic Auburn Avenue to save energy and costs while avoiding overwhelming the space. Lower to the ground trams avoid the need for elevated stations. Trams create more space for safer, separated pathways. (Trams are three seats wide with isles. Streetcars are four seats wide with isles. Side shuttles are generally two seats wide with no isles.)

4. Connect streetcar directly to MLK Station and Memorial Drive by Oakland Cemetery. Later continue west to the State Capital, GSU Stadium and Zoo Atlanta. Use the same standard track gauge throughout Atlanta.

5. Collaborate with the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park to convert Auburn within the national park back to its original brick pavers, with one third of the road converted to a smooth bike path shared with small, two-seat wide shuttles.

6. Connect the south Beltline rail from Oakland City Station to Glenwood Park. Create separate bike and pedestrian paths on each side when adding the new south Beltline rail. Share the bike path with small side shuttles in some portions.

7. Save costs by adding rail at the same time as sidewalks on the south Beltline. The available width of 55 feet is wider than most people realize. A dog park could fit immediately south of Glenwood Park. By avoiding overhead wires, trees can be planted between tracks and sidewalks. Consider creating an even wider space on the south Beltline by adding three foot embankment walls on each side.

8. Add a tunnel under Hulsey Yard. Until completed, help foster a shuttle program to connect Krog Street Market to Inman/Reynoldstown Station and Memorial Avenue.

Larger projects

1. Widen the freeway bridge at Bill Kennedy Way, north of Glenwood Park, to create a car-free route for the Beltline tramway and bike path.

2. Continue tramway west on the median between Memorial Drive and MLK Boulevard to the State Capital, then south to GSU Stadium, then east to Zoo Atlanta on Georgia Avenue.

Beltline tram connection via StudioPlex entrance by Krog Market. Tram bridge over Irwin Street would put trains level to shuttles.

Proposal Details

1. Share car-free portions of the streetcar route with Beltline trams using standard gague tracks.

2. Extend the Auburn Avenue streetcar to the MLK MARTA Station (and Memorial Drive) using Hilliard Street and William Holmes Drive by the MLK Recreation Center.

3. Expose historic bricks on route through Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park. Include a smooth bike path adjacent to brick portion.

4. Connect Beltline tramway from Oakland City Station to Glenwood Park for fast, direct access to Memorial Drive 21 bus route to Five Points Station downtown.

5. Update four existing Siemens S70 streetcars to use CAF GreenTech Freedrive or similar power systems to avoid overhead wires, preserve tree cover and save costs. Freedrive batteries take 20 seconds to recharge every 6 miles.

6. Use shorter, narrower trams similar to the Siemens Avenio Tram to save energy and costs while increasing walkway and bike path widths.

7. Avoid using Irwin Street. Build an elevated turn-arounds at Krog Street Market for the wider streetcar, with ramps for Beltline tramway and wider streetcar vehicles (using the turn-around) to connect to Auburn Avenue through StudipPlex.

8. Until the Beltline tram tunnel connects under Hulsey Yard, help foster a door-to-door shuttle service from Krog Street Market to the south Beltline through Krog Tunnel.

9. Design initial Hulsey Yard tunnel as an entrance to a future longer tunnel that connects to the southeast side of Hulsey Yard, completely separate from car traffic.

10. Add a traffic light where Beltline meets DeKalb Ave so shuttles can turn safely.

11. Provide path separation for bikes and pedestrians on each side of the Beltline rail, from Glenwood Park to Boulevard Crossing, where cement has not yet been poured. This route lacks an adjacent side street for cycling.

12. Expand the I-20 bridge to add car-free rail to Reynoldstown Station and Edgewood Retail District to reduce traffic on Memorial and Moreland Avenues.

Previous Rail Plan

In the initial More MARTA proposal, the streetcar route was mixed with busy traffic on Irwin and Edgewood.
Connections to MARTA Rail were only available by riding into downtown.

Beltline route planners proposed rail on busy Decatur Street and Memorial Drive (red below) as a work-around for Krog Tunnel. The More MARTA plan instead provides frequent arterial buses on Memorial Drive (Route 21) directly to Five Points Station downtown.

Questions and Answers

Toronto: New and old need not collide. (Bombardier on left)

Question - How can we prevent the train schedule on the east side of the Beltline from being interrupted by traffic congestion on Irwin Street and Edgewood?

Answer - Connect to Auburn Avenue through the StudioPlex entrance to avoid traffic on Irwin Street. Add turn-around loop for streetcar above the Beltline - the elevation is higher arriving through StudioPlex.

Question - How can we get to the airport faster? The Edgewood/Auburn Avenue streetcar has no MARTA stations directly on the route until it reaches downtown.

Answer - Extend the tramway route to the MLK MARTA Station using the two streets by the new MLK Recreation Center. Connect the southeast Beltline to the Reynoldstown/Inman Park Station.

Question - How can we separate rail and car traffic in Cabbagetown? The short tunnel planned under Hulsey Yard would still require combining rail with traffic on the north side of Cabbagetown.

Answer - A short direct tunnel could be added initially. Later, a longer tunnel into the south side of Hulsey Yard could branch from the short tunner to allow for complete separation of trains from cars. The short tunnel would remain in use by cars and bikes after rail is switched to the longer tunnel. Until completed, shuttles could connect on the Beltline from Krog Street Market through Krog Tunnel to the Reynoldstown MARTA station and Edgewood Retail District.

Question - Why are peddle assited bikes and eScooters (Bird, Lime, Spin, etc.) not allowed on the Beltline? Why is the Beltline trail the only multi-use trail in Georgia that currently prevents use by eBikes and eScooters? All other multi-use trails treat these personal vehciles as bikes, how can we have the same multi-use rules for the Beltline?

Answer - The Beltline rules could allow eBikes and eScooters by focusing on courtesy behavior, vehicle sound and vehicle speed. Where space allows, separate paths for bikes and pedestrians could be built on each side of the Beltline rail. Start with the upcoming south side of the Beltline where cement has not yet been poured.

More details: Safe Beltline Petition

Recommendations for Increasing Atlanta Streetcar Ridership

Connect Directly to MLK MARTA by the MLK Recreation Center to avoid traffic on Edgewood Avenue and Decatur Street. Connect door-to-door shuttles from neighborhoods to the MLK Station with a car-free route beside Oakland Cemetery.

Focus on Car-free Streetcar Lanes beside MLK Recreation Center and within MLK National Historical Park. Elevated streetcar station at Krog Street Market using StudioPlex entrance.

Provide Last Mile Access via MARTA shuttles integrated with Uber/Lyft requests. Run shuttles through Krog Tunnel prior to adding a Beltline tramway tunnel into the south side of Hulsey Yard.

Connect Streetcar to Memorial Drive - Provide a connection to arterial bus route 21 on Memorial Avenue, along with tourism access to Oakland Cemetery and local restaurants.

Separate Paths for Safety and Increased Usage - Avoid mixing pedestrians and bikes where space allows.

Related Articles

How to Build a Streetcar That Works - Connect directly to MARTA stations, avoid car traffic

Commentary: Connecting MARTA’s proposed light rail to the current Atlanta Streetcar is a mistake

Image based on a tramway in Japan with separation of walkers with dogs and bikes. Actual Beltline walking path would be wider.

"Generally the old railroads that make up the Atlanta Beltline are 100 feet wide. That's plenty wide enough to accommodate transit, trail, trees, and connections up or down to crossing streets." - Gyan Gravel

In 2010, a more detailed design was done by the Atlanta BeltLine Corridor Design team, which was led by Perkins+Will to show how that cross section can work in different conditions. The tracks could be moved closer together and a bike path could be added using a two level embankment.

Catenary-free Power System - Avoiding Overhead Wires

Total or partial catenary-free power systems allow us to preserve more of Atlanta's tree cover while saving costs. Existing streetcars can be converted to Freedrive batteries.

FREEDRIVE: catenary-free running

The Greentech Freedrive developed by CAF Power & Automation (initially in Spain, then England, Germany and Australia) uses ultracapacitors and/or Lithium batteries for easy integration with new or existing railway systems, regardless of their make and structure. Ultra-fast charging occurs at stations in less than 20 seconds. Over 6 miles of autonomy is provided between charges.

Cities using Ultracapacitors and Supercapacitors Power Drives and Catenary-Free
Includes Dallas, Seattle, Detroit

Shareable Dockless Mobility Devices Ordinance

Read city's initial draft of ordinance 18-0-1322
View as Markup with additions
Round-Robin Input
KeyTopics document - Overview from the city

Where space allows, Beltline planners could provide a separate path for bikes and scooters while completing the full rail loop.

eBikes and eScooters are not yet legal on the Beltline.

The Safe Beltline Petition seeks to allow eBikes and eScooters on the Atlanta Beltline by implementing a new set of rules based on courtesy, sound and vehicle speed.

Side Shuttle Service

Side shuttle service could be provided by property owners. New City bought the property below in October 2017 for $34 million. Plans are for a $750-million, mixed-use hub with terraced roofs and elevated flyover bridges that would ferry walkers and cyclists from the BeltLine, through the project, and down into the park. - Atlanta Magazine

Potential Location for Side Shuttle Service? Chassis for the Cristal shuttle by Lohr pictured below are made in Newnan, Georgia.

Our Shared Mobility volunteer group meet twice a month at Code for Atlanta.

Loren Heyns
Construction and Infrastructue Systems (CISE)

Sign the Safe Beltline Petition - Follow Atlanta Rides on Facebook - Collaborate on GitHub