Ryan Gravel: The Man Behind the Belt Line - Atlanta's Planned Trolley

The Man Behind the Belt Line (AJC 9/15/2004 Word Document)
The idea of turning existing railroad tracks into a streetcar or trolley line that would encircle Atlanta was born in 1999, in Ryan Gravel's graduate thesis at Georgia Tech. Now it's the mass transit darling of the region's 25-year transportation plan.

Visit Beltline.org to learn more

Exerpt from AJC Article by Julie Hairston, 7/14/2003:

"The Belt Line, as the project has come to be known, could use electric trolleys or rubber-tired flex trolleys to run on what are currently abandoned or unused rail beds ringing the city's intown neighborhoods. The state owns most rights of way that would be needed.

"The concept, the brainchild of former Georgia Tech student Ryan Gravel, is picking up momentum, some of it fueled by the Belt Line's potential for sparking development along its path.

"Now included in the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority's transit blueprint for the region, the Belt Line also may be added to the Atlanta Regional Commission's long-range transportation plan, an important step toward turning the proposal into reality."

Full AJC Article

Belt line map, from a summary of the thesis Belt Line - Atlanta, Design of Infrastructure as a Reflection of Public Policy by Ryan Gravel.

A "flex trolley" is a train on rubber tires that can ride on both city streets and designated paths. They are not confined to rails, however a rail may be used to guide a flex trolley. Flex trolleys have the advantage of being able to provide front door service to local schools, handicapped individuals and shoppers with heavy loads. Without rails, routes can provide opportunities for private ownership of shuttle vehicles and just-in-time leased vehicles. Flex trolleys may pass waylaid vehicles and routes can be designed for shared usage with both bikes and light weight alternative energy vehicles.

Connecting to high speed rail: A Flex Trolley route through the pedestrian neighborhoods of Midtown, Inman Park and Glenwood Park could connect to a fast bullet route north of Piedmont Park at the new Marta station near the 85 freeway, or the new Atlantic Station development north of Georgia Tech, from which a high speed rail line to Athens has been proposed.