Support the Atlanta BeltLine! Help Save Piedmont Park!

The Atlanta BeltLine and our beautiful Piedmont Park are at risk! Please join the BeltLine Network and friends & neighbors of the BeltLine this Saturday, January 31st, 2009 at 2 p.m. for a rally showing support for the BeltLine project, the preservation of some of our most historic intown neighborhoods, and the prevention of a high speed train through the heart of Piedmont Park! The rally will take place on the BeltLine tracks at the intersection of 10th and Monroe (by Park Tavern).

Atlantans are no strangers to having to fight to preserve our neighborhoods and promote a more sustainable way of life. This time, the Atlanta BeltLine, Piedmont Park, and our intown neighborhoods are at risk (not to mention the future of public transportation in Atlanta). At the eleventh hour, the Georgia Department of Transportation and Amtrak have surfaced to try and lay claim to the northeast corridor (the “Decatur Belt” section) of the Atlanta BeltLine with the intention of putting in a high speed rail line. This high speed rail line would result in trains running from a multi-modal transportation hub downtown (which currently doesn’t exist), heading east along DeKalb Avenue and then going into a large curve to turn north along the BeltLine corridor, through Poncey-Highland, through Virginia Highland, across Monroe and 10th, and directly through Piedmont Park on its way out of town.

This would not only include the high speed trains, but would also include massive right of ways, protective barriers put up to keep pedestrians out, and, ultimately, the elimination of the BeltLine project. It also cuts through some of out most historic intown neighborhoods, would divide Piedmont Park in half (ironic considering the massive expansion underway now), and puts Atlanta in jeopardy of not receiving any federal funds for transportation from the pending economic stimulus package.

The real kicker is that Amtrak has no actual funds and no actual plans to support this move – they merely want to “preserve their options” for potential use of the rail later. They’ve been saying this since 1995 and still, no efforts to bring their plan to life. So it appears that they would put an effective end to the BeltLine without actually making progress themselves.

Those of us who so strongly support the BeltLine are clearly accepting of the advancement of public transit, both on a local and regional level, so this opposition is not to Amtrak itself. It’s in opposition to Amtrak’s choice to run this through our neighborhoods at the expense of one of the greatest projects Atlanta has seen in a long time – when there are viable alternatives for Amtrak!

I will be posting more info about these developments coming up (but for now I have to get to work). So what can we do right now? Attend the rally this Saturday at 2 p.m. in Piedmont Park! Share this blog and news articles with friends and spread the word! And here are snippits you can use from Liz Coyle (Chair of the BeltLine Network) to write our legislators, write editorials, write mass emails to people asking for support, etc.:

Please express your opposition to AMTRAK’s proposal to route high speed heavy rail in a corridor slated for the BeltLine’s Northeast rail corridor through Piedmont Park and Atlanta neighborhoods.

Talking Points
Recent actions by GDOT and AMTRAK threaten the viability of the Atlanta BeltLine without respecting the desire of the City and its residents. I support the BeltLine and hope you will, too.

Implementation of the BeltLine is already well underway.

The City, The BeltLine Partnership and other public and private partners already have made significant investments towards realizing the BeltLine vision-and the Northeast rail corridor is vital to those plans. AMTRAK does not need this corridor to operate its intercity passenger service. Other options are available that are more compatible with local and regional land use and transportation planning objectives. The Regional Transportation Plan and Concept 3 Plan accommodate both the BeltLine and intercity transit, while GDOT and AMTRAK would impose heavy rail to the detriment of the BeltLine.

Both AMTRAK and GDOT lack funding and any specific plans to support their actions, but their actions threaten the BeltLine, the City’s ability to plan for a more sustainable future and the region’s competitiveness for federal transit funding.
Suggested Contacts
Governor Sonny Perdue
http://gov.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,78006749_94820188,00.html
(Note: this is a link to the contact page on the Governor’s Web site)
GDOT Board Members
(Note: address letters to Georgia Department of Transportation Board Members collectively and the Board secretary will forward a copy of your email to each)
U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss
100 Galleria Parkway, Suite 1340, Atlanta, GA 30339
Main: 770-763-9090  |  Fax: 770-226-8633
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson
One Overton Park, Suite 970, 3625 Cumberland Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30339
Tel: (770) 661-0999  |  Fax: (770) 661-0768
Email via web site: http://isakson.senate.gov/contact.cfm
U.S. Congressman John Lewis
The Equitable Building, 100 Peachtree Street, N.W., Suite # 1920, Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 659-0116 Phone  |  (404) 331-0947 Fax

If you have questions, please email me at jenny.p@mac.com! And thanks to Liz Coyle who did a great job moderating the meeting last night with the BeltLine Network!

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