Published on May 20th, 2015 |2
PATH400 partners optimistic about extension to I-285/GA 400, beyond
State transportation officials and local partners on the PATH400 project in Buckhead are discussing the feasibility of and how to pay for the extension of PATH400 as part the renovation of the interchange of Ga. 400 and I-285.
Pete Pellegrini, construction manager for the PATH Foundation, which is constructing PATH400, told BuckheadView at a Perimeter Business Alliance meeting last Friday (May 15), “There is great interest in pursuing this expansion of PATH400 and discussions are going well.”
Pellegrini added, “GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) came to the table immediately.” GDOT became a major partner of PATH400 when it allowed the use of its GA 400 right of way for the construction of the trail through Buckhead.
Pellegrini said GDOT officials have met with representatives of the PATH Foundation, the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts and the cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody to work out ways to finance an extension of the trail that could connect it with neighborhoods outside I-285.
The PATH Foundation’s chief trail builder since the organization was founded in 1994, said, “We can address some of the funding needs. “Partnerships is what makes these things work through leveraging the money.”
Pellegrini pointed to partnerships with GDOT, MARTA, the city of Atlanta, the Buckhead Community Improvement District, Livable Buckhead and
others that have made the PATH400 project workable.
Pellegrini told the audience at the Perimeter Business Alliance discussion of alternative transportation options, “PATH400 is our most exciting project at this time. Our goal is to make this a signature trail…on the same scale as the BeltLine trail.”
He said the first half-mile segment was opened to the public in January and Pellegrini said construction of the second segment—from Old Ivy to Wieuca Road—will begin very shortly. Her said it has been held up due to making adjustments in the plans, which he said will being improvements to the trail.
Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Transportation is planning a complete overhaul of the Ga. 400/I-285 intersection that is expected to cost nearly $1 billion. Trail advocates argue an extension of PATH400 should be routed through the intersection as part of the project.
Pellegrini said plans would have to be worked out to complete the segment of the trail in north Buckhead, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody—which presently would end at Loridans Drive—to continue north to the I-285/GA 400 intersection.
His sentiments were echoed today (May 20) by Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling in her update report on PATH400 to the LBI board at its regular monthly meeting. Livable Buckhead is the organization overseeing PATH400 development and funding.
She told the LBI board that Phase 2 is still on hold waiting on a soil report from GDOT. She anticipates about another 30 days on hold. In the meantime, however, she said work is getting started on Phases 3 and 4 which are in south Buckhead.
The third phase is from Sidney Marcus Boulevard to Miami Circle and Phase 4 is from Garson and Adina drives to Piedmont Road. She added that Phase 4 probably would be finished first, because it only requires a sidewalk permit from the city of Atlanta—probably by the end of 2015.
Starling also told her board that planning discussions are well underway regarding extension of the trail to the I-285/GA400 intersection. “We will have to fill the gap between Loridans and I-285,” she added.
When PATH400 is complete, Pellegrini told the May 15 luncheon crowd at the Hyatt Atlanta Perimeter hotel at Villa Cristina, “It will help attract business to the area and provide new
transportation options for residents, especially the younger workers.”
The panel included Ryland McClendon, assistant general manager for MARTA; Chris Tomlinson, executive director of GRTA and SRTA; Juaquin Jordan, administrative services director of State Farm, and Emily Haar, program manager for Perimeter Connects, a newly introduced affiliate of the PCIDs to help employers design transportation plans that include options for their employees.
Haar said those options would include items such as discounted bulk MARTA tickets or carpools. “Anything that takes cars off the road,” she said. She said businesses will do a better job of attracting and holding on to employees – especially millennials – if they offer options that allow commuters to avoid traffic.