by Max Brantley
... the Atlanta BeltLine, which aims to convert 22 miles of mostly disused railway beds circling the city’s urban core into a biking and pedestrian loop, a new streetcar line, and a staggeringly ambitious engine of urban revitalization.The project is underway. It has far to go. It's expensive. It's exciting. It's rebuilding neighborhoods, not digging more concrete gulches to allow cars to drive faster to faraway places.
... Atlanta previously experienced decades of population loss because of suburbanization and white flight.We could do this in Little Rock. Indeed, some far-thinking people have made impressive strides downtown. I don't expect the state freeway builders to do anything but build freeways. But you'd wish members of the LITTLE ROCK CITY BOARD would do a better job representing the city that pays them than holding Cabot commuters at the forefront of their deliberations.
The tide has turned significantly in recent years. Planners now say Atlanta’s population, which stands at about 463,000, could double in the next 15 years. Many of the new residents could end up living along the BeltLine.
In a study this year, Mr. Leinberger and a colleague, Michael Rodriguez, showed that areas they identified as “walkable urban places” in the nation’s 30 largest metro areas were gaining market share over car-dependent suburban areas for “perhaps the first time in 60 years,” and earning higher rental premiums.
Mark Pendergrast, an Atlanta-born author, in a forthcoming book about the BeltLine, notes that the city, by at least one measure, suffers from the worst income-inequality gaps of any major American city; soul-deadening sprawl and commuting times; and neighborhoods that have been chopped up by highway construction and mangled by misguided 20th-century “urban renewal” projects.Sound familiar?