It is hard to fathom, but a gigantic hole in the earth in the Bankhead area west of Midtown will one day be-come a centerpiece for Atlanta’s largest park.
The first step in the process is to expand gorgeous, old Bellwood Quarry into a reservoir holding more than a million gallons. Well past the planning stage, anticipated completion is 2018, no longer just drawings on pa-per, according to Lillian Govus, communications director for Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management. She said a crew from Colorado has begun scaling loose rocks on the quarry sides before main construction be-gins. Next comes blasting shafts 400 ft. down to the quarry floor, with heavy artillery including a mammoth custom-built drill to serve as a tunnel boring machine. Currently under first-phase construction in Ohio, about 70 trucks will transport the components to the Bellwood Quarry site, where workers will complete final assem-bly of the machine. “Come September,” says Govus of the tunnel to follow, “we’ll start on its way.”
The public will name the massive boring machine workers will use to dig a tunnel 12.5 ft. in diameter, stretching 5 miles and running under Marietta St. and Howell Mill Rd., to connect Bellwood Quarry to a water treatment plant and also the Chattahoochee. The pipe inside will be 10 ft. in diameter.
Part of the Bankhead area surrounding the expanded Bellwood Quarry is planned as Westside Park, to be built later. Envisioned to exceed Piedmont Park in size, it will connect the Atlanta BeltLine trail and Proctor Creek, which the city plans to restore. Westside Park will become a beautiful greenspace attraction and—like Piedmont Park—a destination for in-town recreation, not only for people nearby but also community residents throughout the Metro.
–Dr. Paul Hudson