What’s Really Going On With Path 400?

During the depths of the pandemic shutdown, the office phones were not ringing, so I decided to walk every neighborhood in Buckhead over a few days. When I crossed over GA 400 one day on the pedestrian bridge into Peachtree Park, I saw a fenced-off gap between the sound barrier. A “Buck” statue told me that this new section of PATH400 would be open soon but a gap in the fence was too much to ignore.

I squeezed through and enjoyed exploring the completed, but unopened section of the freshly-poured concrete. The trail includes new landscaping, park benches, and even a wetland that appeared to have a lot of wildlife. It winds between 400 and a freight railroad line.  Raised Marta tracks snake overhead. All of this commotion seems like it would be annoying, but it was somehow a peaceful walk and a view of a normally busy city from a different perspective. 

After a mile or so, the trail ended at the back of a deserted Miami Circle where I had to climb a much more imposing fence to get out. It has been over 12 months since we last teased you with a photo tour of the construction along this trail. It is an important stretch that will eventually cross into Midtown and connect to the Beltline.  This left me wondering, why has this section of PATH400 not been opened to the public?

Path 400 Construction Update

Denise Starling, executive director of Livable Buckhead, must have been reading my mind. Soon after my (unauthorized/not recommended) hike, she posted the following update:

Construction: Lenox Square to Miami Circle    

Ok so, I can only avoid the elephant on the trail for so long. Yes, I know you have noticed the new section from Lenox Square to Miami Circle STILL isn’t open and yes I know you are really sick of waiting for it. Me too – believe me!

The devil is in the details and are we ever in the details now. The final steps are the critical ones – they are the things that keep you safe.

Detail #1:  A shocking experience is not what we strive to provide for our trail users, so we really don’t want you mixing it up with MARTA’s dreaded third rail. This means we have to replace the adjacent fence because the current one isn’t up to today’s standards. Easy, right? Just build a new one.  Yeah….no of course not.

It isn’t a typical fence that you just order off the shelf and we don’t want our fence guys to get flattened by running trains in their efforts to keep you safe. They can’t work on the fence when trains are operational and we can’t get track time allocated for them to do their work. So we had to come up with an alternative plan. MARTA is currently reviewing that plan and we will get to work as soon as we can.

Detail #2:  Security cameras. Well, we identified locations for the cameras and they are being installed now. Next we have to work out the wiring necessary to connect them to MARTA’s communications network. (Unfortunately, they can’t be wireless. Just my luck!) That connection needs to be made in the most sensitive part of the MARTA system, so we’re working on that.

Detail #3:  Once we get all the physical plans in place, we have to get our engineer to sign off that we have built everything according to the plans. Once that happens, then MARTA has to review that certification and approve it.

Detail #4:  We are still finishing purchase of the easement we need over the railroad property. We have agreement, and we just need to line up the money to pay for it which requires jumping through some bureaucratic hoops with the City of Atlanta. It is moving, but these things take time.

So, there you have it – the punch list of things that have to be finished to open the new section. Will it open this summer?  Let me consult the trusty magic 8-ball….  HEY! The 8 ball actually says “You may rely on it!”  (I’m not making that up!) That’s the best news I have had during this entire craziness otherwise known as 2020.

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