Ryan Gravel (MCRP ’99) conceived one of the most ambitious rail-to-trail projects in recent history with his Beltline thesis

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Initially envisioned in 1999 as a transit solution for the notoriously auto-centric Atlanta, the BeltLine vision has kept growing ever since. City and Regional Planning student Ryan ravel (MCRP ’99) wrote a master’s thesis entitled, “Belt Line–Atlanta: Design of Infrastructure as a Reflection of Public Policy.” Gravel challenged the city’s reliance on the automobile and proposed to upend that norm by creating light-rail stations along historic freight lines to connect with bus routes and MARTA. Today, the sheer scope of the project is probably best comprehended in numbers: It includes four abandoned rail beds transformed into 22 miles of streetcar transit and bike and pedestrian paths. This greenway circles the urban core and connects 45 historic neighborhoods and more than 20 parks. To do it, 1,000 acres of brownfields will be remediated, and 3,000 acres of impervious surfaces will be broken up and given back to native plants. The result is more than 1,300 acres of green space, increasing the city’s parkland by 40 percent.

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School of City & Regional Planning

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alumni, atlanta, beltline, gravel, greenspace, rail to trail
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  • Created By: Jessie Brandon
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Sep 10, 2014 - 8:24am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 10:27pm