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

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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