The Atlanta BeltLine’s Southside Corridor will get a major boost with a $500,000 Brownfield Cleanup Grant. The grant will fund environmental remediation of a 0.85-mile section of former railroad corridor in the Atlanta Beltline Southside Corridor, encompassing approximately 16 acres.
“The City of Atlanta has many examples, like Atlantic Station, of brownfield remediation playing a critical role in revitalizing underdeveloped areas,” said Dr. Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “These latest grant funds will not only further development of the Atlanta Beltline’s Southside trail, but also pave the way for equity-driven investment in low-income census tracts, including the three Federal Opportunity Zones in the remediation area. We thank the U.S. Environmental Protection Division for their continued support of these strategic development efforts in our city.”
This segment of the former CSX railroad corridor will weave through the emerging job center of Pittsburgh Yards; underneath the major interstate bisecting Atlanta – the 75/85 Connector; and a major Atlanta Public Schools complex. It also safely crosses under a busy five-way road intersection via a beautiful, 120-year old stone railroad tunnel.
Due to the BeltLine’s history as a former railroad, Brownfield remediation has been a core component of the Atlanta BeltLine since its official inception in 2005. Though the trains have stopped running, contamination remains. Along the corridor, an estimated 3,000 tons of soil will be excavated and transported to an appropriate off-site disposal facility.
“Atlanta Beltline, Inc. is thrilled to continue our decades-long partnership with the EPA to remediate a segment of the Southside corridor and create new pathways for economic inclusion, such as the development of Pittsburgh Yards,” said Clyde Higgs, CEO of Atlanta Beltline, Inc. “Initiatives such as these strengthen workforce development efforts and incentivize nearby housing development, including new affordable units.”
The Atlanta BeltLine repurposes a freight rail corridor constructed approximately 100 years ago to bypass the core of Atlanta and transforms it into a 22-mile transportation corridor with a 14-foot wide multi-purpose trail that encircles the heart of the city.
In 2009, the City of Atlanta, through Invest Atlanta, established the Brownfield Remediation Loan Fund (BRLF) to provide brownfield cleanup financing for eligible projects within the Atlanta city limits. The fund was initially capitalized by a $1 million grant from the EPA. Since 2009, the EPA has provided an additional $1.9 million to the program for a total of $2.9 million to fund additional brownfield investments. Invest Atlanta offers BRLF funds to businesses interested in or involved in the development of brownfield sites for commercial projects, including recent financing to Atomic Entertainment for environmental remediation of Pullman Yard.
“EPA’s grant funding has helped make it possible for communities across Georgia to clean up contaminated properties and benefit from the resulting economic growth,” said Richard Dunn, Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. “Since the Georgia Brownfields Program began 17 years ago, 598 properties have been cleaned up at minimal expense to taxpayers and we are excited to add these new projects in Atlanta and Albany to that list.”
Grants awarded by EPA’s Brownfields Program provide communities across the country with an opportunity to transform contaminated sites into community assets that attract jobs and achieve broader economic development outcomes while taking advantage of existing infrastructure.