Woodall Rail Trail, First Segment Of Silver Comet Connector, Breaks Ground In Atlanta’s Upper Westside

Construction is underway on the Woodall Rail Trail, the first segment of the Silver Comet Connector in Atlanta. 

The future trail follows Woodall Creek, a tributary to Peachtree Creek, in a preserved 10-acre tract of land teeming with native plants and wildlife. It begins at the future Northwest BeltLine connection at Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard and Elaine Avenue and extends north to the intersection of Chattahoochee Avenue and Chattahoochee Row at The Works.

The trail will provide safe walking and biking infrastructure while protecting this forest preserve in an area of Atlanta that lacks sidewalks and greenspace.

Grants from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and project partners Groundwork Atlanta, PATH Foundation, Trees Atlanta and the Upper Westside CID are driving the project forward. In 2022, it was awarded a Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Project (GOSP) grant because of its ability to reconnect residents and visitors to hidden natural resources.

“The Woodall Rail Trail is a testament to the commitment of our Upper Westside community, our project partners and the enduring spirit of collaboration,” said Elizabeth Hollister, Executive Director, Upper Westside Community Improvement District. “It symbolizes the shared dedication to creating a healthier, more sustainable and interconnected Atlanta.”

To improve water quality in the previously neglected creek, the Upper Westside Community Improvement District partnered with Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management to design a bioswale, or a vegetated area with special soils and plants, to pretreat the water run-off from both Ellsworth Industrial Boulevard and Elaine Avenue before it enters Woodall Creek. This critical green infrastructure is partially funded by a 319(h) grant from DNR and will be constructed in the roadway.

Project partners Groundwork Atlanta and Trees Atlanta led volunteer groups throughout 2022 and 2023 to remove invasive plants from the 10-acre tract. Their ongoing forest restoration work during and after construction will include replanting native grasses, shrubs and trees along the trail.

The trail segment is aptly named the Woodall Rail Trail because it winds along the banks of Woodall Creek and through sections of abandoned rail spurs that were once part of a vast industrial network. The name pays homage to the historical and natural significance of the area while acknowledging that this is a segment of the broader Silver Comet Connector project led by  the PATH Foundation.

The Silver Comet Trail is a nearly 100-mile paved, non-motorized path connecting metro Atlanta to Anniston, Alabama popular with cyclists, hikers and pedestrians.

In addition, Selig Enterprises funded and installed a traffic signal and crosswalk at Southland Circle, enabling safe passage for trail users across Chattahoochee Avenue. Selig is working alongside the PATH Foundation and the Upper Westside CID to weave the next portion of the Silver Comet Connector through their properties fronting Chattahoochee Avenue alongside Woodall Creek.

After a public invitation-to-bid process, the partnership selected IP Construction to build the trail. It expects the Woodall Rail Trail to open in the first quarter of 2025.

About the Upper Westside Community Improvement District

The Upper Westside Community Improvement District (CID) is a local governmental entity covering six neighborhoods focused on enhancing connectivity, greenspace, and safety through capital investment and community partnership. www.upperwestsideatl.org

About Groundwork Atlanta

Groundwork Atlanta seeks to achieve the sustained regeneration, improvement, and management of the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships, which empower people, businesses, and organizations to promote environmental, economic, and social well-being. www.groundworkatlanta.org

About PATH Foundation

Since 1991, the PATH Foundation has been transforming the landscape of the greater metropolitan Atlanta area. By skillfully combining philanthropic, public and other funding sources, PATH has turned abandoned railroad corridors into beautiful linear green spaces, linked neighborhoods to bustling commercial centers and provided alternative modes of transportation for people of all ages. www.pathfoundation.org