Georgia passenger rail group moving from Atlanta to Macon

By Maria Saporta

A Georgia passenger rail advocacy organization is moving its headquarters from Atlanta to Macon.

Georgians for Passenger Rail, founded in 2009, has been promoting the development of rail travel throughout the state.

But the organization has been focusing most of its efforts on creating passenger rail service between Atlanta and Macon — a route that is the farthest along.

Gordon Kenna, CEO for Georgians for Passenger Rail, said the move will reduce the organization’s overhead, expand its capacity and permit it to concentrate its efforts on Macon and the Atlanta-Macon corridor.

The board also has been reorganized. The new chairman is Dr. Kirby Godsey, a Macon resident who is the retired president of Mercer University.

“We believe this move will give us an economic advantage, will support our policy objectives, and will keep the issue properly focused on the corridor,” Kenna wrote in an email.

The founding chairman of Georgians for Passenger Rail, John Izard, put it this way.

“We’ve realized that to achieve our mission, which includes the goal of a Macon-to-Atlanta passenger rail in the next 10 years, GPR must be outside Atlanta. And where better than Macon, in the center of the state, where a group of leaders is deeply committed to passenger rail?”

Kenna said that although he’ll be spending most of his time in Atlanta, the administrative, financial and corporate address will be at 479 Cherry St. in Macon. The organization has been based at the historic Rhodes Hall at 1516 Peachtree St. in Atlanta.

Part of the challenge GPR has is to explain that the benefits of passenger rail go far beyond providing a transportation link between two places.

“Passenger rail is about so much more than transportation,” Kenna said. “Transportation drives development so this strategy creates an alternate growth path in a direction that is more economically and environmentally sustainable.

“As a long range investment, this approach allows part of our state to develop differently, reduces the pressure on our watershed, creates economic opportunities by connecting middle Georgia to the economic centers of the state, and creates transit opportunities in south metro.” Kenna added.

The reconstituted board is as follows:

Dr, Kirby Godsey, chairman
John Izard, immediate past chairman
Steve Jukes, treasurer
Sharon Gay, secretary
Dr. Gerald Arkin
Mike Dyer
Jim Henderson
Ed Heys
John McColl
Mark McDonald
Kay Pippin
Audry Price
Josh Rogers
Ed Sell
Steve Stephens
Brother Stewart
Richard Swindle
Bill Verner
Thomas Wicker
Alice Wiggins-Tolbert

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3 comments
Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off
Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off

Wondering says:
April 8, 2011 at 8:40 am
"I do have to question why a rail advocacy organization would set up a situation where the CEO will be shuttling via Atlanta and Macon on the highway (I presume). Isn’t it possible that the constant use of that Atlanta-Macon interstate connection by the CEO will help detractors prove that rail development on that corridor is unnecessary?"

Actually, having to shuttle back-and -forth on I-75, especially the section of the road from I-285 south to about Locust Grove, could maybe be very beneficial to the argument for transportation infrastructure improvements to both road and rail. The traffic on that section of I-75 is just simply abhorrent, particularly during morning & evening rush hours with the additional potential for VERY LONG and even EXTREME delays when there is construction or when one of the many frequent collisions occur on a roadway that for most commuters from South Metro Atlanta and Middle Georgia is the only available commuting option. I-75 south of The Perimeter is quite possibly one of the best examples of why this state so critically needs to invest in transportation infrastructure both in the form of rails and roads. With no other options for commuters and with I-75 being a very major route for tourists & travelers from the Midwest heading to & from Florida and with the road being the main heavily-traveled truck route for transporting cargo between Atlanta & the Port of Savannah, which has grown into one of the most important seaports on the planet, the road, which is only six lanes south of the Hudson Bridge/Eagles Landing interchange, is clearly handling an exponentially higher amount of traffic than it was designed to handle as even the slightest little delay or hiccup turns the roadway into a parking lot of seemingly bibical proportions resulting in massive delays.

Wondering
Wondering

RE: "Kenna said that although he’ll be spending most of his time in Atlanta, the administrative, financial and corporate address will be at 479 Cherry St. in Macon."

I do have to question why a rail advocacy organization would set up a situation where the CEO will be shuttling via Atlanta and Macon on the highway (I presume). Isn't it possible that the constant use of that Atlanta-Macon interstate connection by the CEO will help detractors prove that rail development on that corridor is unnecessary?

Nonetheless, I'm glad to see an organization taking up space in downtown Macon. I was just there on a trip a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed seeing the new development on the north end of the Mercer campus. And I'm eager to see progress on that College Hill Corridor project. There's a lot of potential for downtown Macon.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off
Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off

What better place to be based out of than 80 MILES AWAY from the policymakers who will be making the decision on passenger rail transportation instead of being near or at the Georgia State Capitol under the Gold Dome where the decisions are made....BRILLIANT! They can go ahead and tell themselves that if they want to, but with the way the "legislature sausage" is really made at the Gold Dome it sounds like they need to be opening up an office right inside of the statehouse and spending big bucks wining & dining legislative leaders and getting their ear on this issue whenever possible and taking up residence in the Speaker's, Lt. Governor's & Governor's offices instead of moving close to home out of lazyness.

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