Ryan Gravel

Ryan Gravel

The man behind Atlanta’s BeltLine will no longer be directly involved with its management.

Ryan Gravel conceived the BeltLine project more than fifteen years ago as part of his Georgia Tech Master’s thesis. Stringing together four different rail lines that encircle the city, Gravel’s project aims to connect disparate parts of Atlanta, to introduce green space and exercise areas, and ultimately to improve the quality of life for the city’s denizens.

But on Monday, the BeltLine Partnership – the organization officially managing the project – announced Gravel’s resignation from its board.

Gravel cited concerns over inclusiveness and equity in light of the “surging economy and development that’s happening all around the beltline” as reasons for his resignation.

According to Gravel, the BeltLine came from a “broad coalition of voices” and is supposed to be an “investment in equity that generates access and economy for communities around the city.”

But he’s worried that those voices won’t be heard. The project is supposed to facilitate construction of low-income housing alongside the BeltLine. If that housing doesn’t get built on a large enough scale, Gravel doesn’t see the project satisfying its ideal – to serve the whole city, not just a select few.

Nathaniel Smith, another prominent board member and founder of the Partnership for Southern Equity, resigned alongside Gravel.

By the project’s completion, the BeltLine will connect 45 intown neighborhoods. It uses a 22-mile historic rail corridor surrounding Atlanta as its foundation. Work will continue in phases through 2030.