Peach Bites

Wow, we had a busy week with headlines.  Most of them centered around water and transit.  We obviously, the recent flooding was a big story and there was some movement in the water wars.  In the transit arena, Ray LaHood, secretary of transportation for the Obama administration was in town and shared his views on what the state and region need to do to progress the transit gridlock that exists.  
We also saw a couple really positive articles come out which we will kick the post off with below:

 

Emory Honored for Green Work - The Urban Land Institute awarded it's Sustainable Development Award to Emory's Sustainability Program.  This is great because Emory has been a leader in the area developing LEED certified buildings and creating innovative sustainability programs such as their campus Farmer's Market which was started in 2008. - EmoryWheel.com
 

Smog Days Down in Georgia - Great News!!  The metro area has halved the number of unhealthy air quality days.  The suspected culprits are the weather and the economy.  This happened even while the federal government increased the standards for healthy air this year. - Georgia Public Broadcasting

Georgia Supreme Court Rejects Power Plant Challenge - Justices voted unanimously on Wednesday against hearing the appeal by environmentalists against the $2B Longleaf Energy Station.  Notable Quote: “It’s amazing that, with 30 organizations representing tens of thousands of people weighing in with the Supreme Court discussing how important this case is … the Georgia Supreme Court declined to even consider the case,” said Justine Thompson, executive director of Atlanta-based Green Law. - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Congress Set to Finalize Anti-Mercury Bill - Wow.. There are only four facilities in the US that are still using mercury to produce chlorine and one of those is the Olin plant in Augusta.  Apparently, more than 600 lbs. of mercury are released into the air and water along the Savannah river annually.  It would definitely be nice to see that phased out. - Georgia Public Broadcasting
 
Perdue Favors Incentives for Water Conservation - You may or may not recall our post, Perdue says no to conservation and yes to water war.  Well, in typical politician fashion, reality has set in and the big man has flip-flopped.  He is now saying "I think it's time to think about potentially, some state-types of strong suggestions for conservation efforts in our local communities, and I'd love to think about it in an incentive fashion... rather than a stick."  Expect to see outlines of those 'incentives' before the next state legislature session. - Georgia Public Broadcasting
 
Perdue Names Water Task Force - Sonny is bringing in some heavy hitters from the private sector.  John Brock, CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., and Tim Lowe, Lowe Engineers Inc., will co-chair the panel which will look for alternative plans following the recent federal court ruling. - Atlanta Business Chronicle
Trash and Bacteria Fill Rivers - In the aftermath of the recent flooding, reports are now coming out about e.coli and other problematic bacteria polluting our rivers and streams.  The bacteria will quickly go away but the bigger issue is the tons of trash that have been introduced into the rivers.  Where will it all flow to?  At least we're upstream.  It's someone else's problem, right??? - Georgia Public Broadcasting
 
Atlanta Reservoir Plan on Hold - We touched on this in last week's Peach Bites.  This week, the Atlanta City Council decided to put off consideration of the proposed $650 million reservoir in the Dawson Forest. - Atlanta Business Chronicle

Tri-State Water Dispute: Georgia's Hand Further Weakend - Alabama landed another blow against Georgia this week.  The prospects for a ruling in Georgia's favor keep getting slimmer and slimmer. - Georgia Public Broadcasting
 
Georgia Applies for High-Speed Rail Grant - The GDOT applied for a grant in the amount of $472 million this week to begin working on a high-speed rail line between Atlanta and Macon.  This application, if approved, is expected to cover all the capital costs of the project.  I've been doing a lot of research on this topic and haven't really heard much about the Atlanta-Macon route.  You've probably seen the Brain Train, Lovejoy and Chattanooga routes discussed but the Macon route came out of the blue.  Any way we look at it though, connectivity is a good thing.  Let's see what happens. - Atlanta Business Chronicle
 
ATL Mayoral Candidates and the Beltline - The AJC had a quick recap of the recent Beltline mayoral forum.  The reality of the economic collapse and depressed real estate market is definitely recognized by the candidates.  But, it is apparent that all three of them support the Beltline.  They each have some interesting ideas on what is the vision of the beltiline. - AJC

Beltline Mayoral Forum: Which Candidate Scored - There was some interesting perspective on the recent Beltline mayoral forum from Atlanta Unsheltered.  Here's what I took from the post.  Lisa Borders and Mary Norwood really support the beltline.  Kasim Reed wants to prevent crime and a deterioration of urban youth.  Mary Norwood got stuck in traffic and the audience wondered why she didn't take MARTA since there was a stop across the street.  Probably because there wasn't a stop where she was coming from.  hmm...  - Atlanta Unsheltered

Beltline Officials: Citizen Group Wants to Take Control of the Project - This was interesting.  The Tax Allocation District Advisory Committee (TADAC), has put out statements questioning the funding of affordable housing along the Beltline and has stated that Beltline officials are keeping important information private and thus not allowing TADAC to do it's job.  There is too much in the article to accurately summarize in a few sentences but to me it seems to be a battle over public or private control.  I lean toward the private side. - Creative Loafing

Atlanta Forward, Our View: Transit is a Track to Metro's Prosperity - This article has some interesting local perspective and I enjoyed the comparison to St. Louis and Chicago when riverboat transportation was giving way to train transportation.  St. Louis became an also-ran because it pandered to pressure from riverboat operators.  If Atlanta panders to the pressure of the auto/road lobby, we will lose out on the opportunity to significantly upgrade our transit and will fall behind other southern cities. - AJC

Atlanta Forward, Another View: Georgia Needs to get its Act Together - This quote sums it up: LaHood expressed the administration’s strong support for more transit alternatives. He encouraged state support for MARTA and noted streetcars are on their way back — citing the success of Portland, Ore.’s system. This kind of thinking is potentially good news for the proposed Peachtree Streetcar and bodes well for federal support for our region’s comprehensive, coordinated Concept 3 Transit Plan. - AJC

State of Georgia is Stuck in the Mud While Atlanta Region Moves Forward on Transit - Notable Quote: "Although LaHood didn't tell us anything we didn't already know, it's always reaffirming to have the most powerful transportation official in the country tell state leaders that they've been asleep at the switch."  The good news is that there is overwhelming support for Concept 3 and Metro Atlanta is on the verge of approving the Regional Transit Committee which will be a much needed regional steering group that has the teeth to make things happen. - Saporta Report