Tag Archives: Atlanta

Healthy Moe’s?

Moe’s to get new, fresher menu By Jeremiah McWilliams, AJC, 13 Jan 2011:
The Atlanta-based burrito chain will roll out a new nationwide menu on Jan. 24, top executives told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Coming soon to 420-plus restaurants will be grass-fed sirloin steak with no added hormones. The pork will be hormone-free, steroid-free and grain-fed. Moe’s says its chicken will be hormone-free and not raised in cages, and the tofu will be organic.
Sounds good to me. Why are they doing this?
“The Moe’s consumers have told us this is something they want,” said Paul Damico, president of the brand. “We take that information seriously. They tell us they want fresh, they want sustainable.”
Voting at the checkout counter works!

They have three locations in Valdosta:

1525 Baytree Rd.
Valdosta, GA 31602
(229) 293-0663

3145 North Ashley Street
Valdosta, GA 31602
(229) 333-0649

1500 Patterson Street
Valdosta, GA 31698


PS: And I learned that Moe’s is based in Atlanta.

Georgia’s Lack of Rail Act

Jay Bookman blogs in the AJC about how Rail will come ‘when Georgia gets its act together’, talking about Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation:
In his comments, LaHood tried hard not to criticize Georgia policy makers directly. “I’m not going to pretend to tell Georgia what to do,” he said repeatedly.

But rather than criticize the lack of planning and support for high-speed rail in Georgia, he offered examples of regions elsewhere that “get it.” “The Northeast (high-speed rail) corridor has its act together,” LaHood said. “The Midwest corridor has its act together. The governors there have set aside their own egos and their own ambitions” to work together on bringing high-speed rail to those regions.

LaHood made no mention of the stark contrast to the Southeast, where our governors are too busy posturing to discuss resolution of the ongoing water wars, let alone high-speed rail.

Ain’t that the truth.

The best part is in a comment:

You see the state legislature wants to control the tax revenues from metro Atlanta so they can spend them in Hahira, Rome, Valdosta, etc., etc. Antwhere but metro Atlanta.
Ah, Atlanta! Just more important than anywhere else!

You know, if Atlanta cooperated in creating a rail plan for the entire state, such as for example the long-established rail corridor from Chattanooga through Atlanta, Macon, Tifton, Hahira, and Valdosta to Jacksonville and Orlando, we might actually get rail in Georgia. It doesn’t have to all be high speed. If I could take a regular passenger train to Atlanta, I sure would, instead of having to drive or squeeze into an ASA toothpaste tube.

By the way, Ray LaHood has a blog.

Perimeter Beltline?

beltline.jpg The most common reaction to any proposal of rail transit near Valdosta or Lowndes County is “there’s not enough population”. Yet there’s this:
Another rail opponents’ argument has yet to be addressed: Atlanta is simply too spread-out to make passenger trains worthwhile. The Beltline runs in circles around the most important job center — downtown — and will have to rely instead on connections with MARTA for those commuters.

Yet, despite all that, city leaders still believe in what first Gravel imparted: take these old train tracks, make them useful and pleasant, and development will come.

It will be a different kind of development, pedestrian-friendly and a bit denser in place of the car-friendly sprawl. The new buildings that spring up around Beltline transit stops and parks will give Atlanta new places for people to live. And it will be an agreeable place, improving land values and enhancing property tax revenues.

If even sprawl-happy Atlanta can manage denser rail-based development, Lowndes County can, too. A start would be to have the bus system (Valdosta, Lowndes County, or combined) run all the way around Perimiter Road, which is the local equivalent of the Beltline.

People say the east side of Perimeter Road was intended for industry. Well, maybe, but there is already a school and at least one subdivision there, and it could also be used for affordable housing, especially if there was bus or train service.

Maybe we should try this kind of stakeholder involvement:

Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee

The TADAC is made up of stakeholders from across the broad spectrum of Atlanta and is composed of community members representing the Atlanta neighborhoods and technical experts with a commitment to making the BeltLine a success for the City. Including experience in the area of parks and trails planning and development; transit planning and development; finance and business; complex project management; affordable housing; urban planning; arts and culture; historic preservation; green building principles and other subjects relevant to the BeltLine.

Instead of holding a few meetings and hoping people show up (and that is already an improvement over previous days), maybe actively seek out stakeholders both pro and con and get them regularly involved.


So Far Behind Neighboring States?

img570perry_goodfriend_photo.jpg Opportunity knocks, and what does Georgia do?
President Barack Obama’s plans for a national high-speed rail network is bittersweet for Georgia.

The state is now eligible to win millions of dollars in federal funds for high-speed rail projects.

But transportation advocates say Georgia is so far behind neighboring states that the best it can hope for is money to fund more studies.

Who are these un-named “transportation advocates”? Sounds like they’re “paving is progress” advocates.

Oh, my:

The department says it is changing. It has recently hired Erik Steavens to oversee rail projects, and he said he will push for a rail line linking Atlanta to Chattanooga.
Changing from thinking paving to thinking small. That’s change that will miss a great opportunity. Actually even worse than thinking small:
The only other rail project, with guaranteed cash available, is a line from Atlanta to Chattanooga that was part of a 2000 bill from the state legislature, HB 1348. In fact, the bill, which was passed when the Democrats last controlled the State House, contains plans for several lines around the state, but only the Atlanta-Chattanooga high-speed track is specifically guaranteed funding “should federal or private funds be made available for such high speed rail.”

Unfortunately for Georgia legislators, though, President Obama’s rail plans do not include a line between the two southern cities, meaning that if the state still wants to build that line, it needs to come up with the money itself.

Up until the 1950s Georgia had a rail system that connected almost every town in the state. The rails from Atlanta through Macon and Valdosta to JAX are still there, and in use constantly for freight. Sure, Valdosta would have to build a station, but those are not complicated. And somebody would have to convince CSX to share the rails. But JAX already did that for commuter rail, so it’s possible. 5 million people in Atlanta, 3/4 million in Jacksonville, and Valdosta halfway in between….

If the same entities that repeatedly banded together to keep Moody Air Force Base (VLD, Lowndes County, VSU, state and national reps and senators, etc.) lobbied DoT (state and federal), they could do this thing. They could even use the rail line to Barretts to run commuter rail to Moody while they’re at it. Here’s a chance for Valdosta and Lowndes County to lead the state in making real progress.

Jail Deaths Studied

The VDT studied jail deaths back in 2006:
Recent reports of the death of an inmate in the Lowndes County Jail have a number of citizens questioning the causes and numbers of deaths that have occurred at the jail in the last several years.
They found that the number of deaths per inmate population per year in Lowndes County was similar to those for Fulton County and DeKalb County. However, there’s a lot more context that the VDT did not include.

Perhaps for reasons of space, the VDT did not include a list of inmate deaths. Here is George Rhynes’ attempt at compiling a complete list of jail deaths in Lowndes County, 1994-2009.

More generally, beyond comparisons with Atlanta counties, how do Lowndes County inmate populations compare with those elsewhere? That’s a longer story for another post.

The Royal Palm, Valdosta, and Jacksonville

There used to be a train called the Royal Palm that ran from Detroit and Buffalo via Cincinnati, Atlanta, and Macon to Jacksonville. This schedule is for 1953:


Jacksonville Transit Blog brings this up while quoting a Valdosta Daily Times article about Valdosta's new transportation plan. Hm, 5 million people in Atlanta, 3/4 million in Jacksonville, and Valdosta halfway in between….