Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Driving Around the ATL

Full day: got to the office (late as usual) and worked through lunch to make up for the lost time. In the afternoon, I had to head downtown to the former state geological survey (Republican Governor Sonny Perdue shut it down). I used to work there once, back in the early 80s, many life times ago, it seems now.

Anyway, I had to stop there to buy some bulletins and topographic maps for an upcoming project. It was a little spooky going back to my old office and seeing it all deserted now except for the publications room (old Sonny closed that sucker down, but he wasn't going to shut off a functioning cash register).

After the Survey visit, I drove over to a meeting of the advisory board for the Atlanta Beltline project. However, I showed up at the wrong location - apparently, I missed an email. I made some calls, got the new location, and was able to drive over and make it just in time for the start of the meeting.

The advisory board meeting went on for over two hours, maybe longer - I don't know because I couldn't stay. I had to leave the meeting in progress because I had another meeting to go to, this time for a Neighborhood Alliance meeting. The neighborhoods have been concerned about the increase in traffic and while it appears obvious that the reason for the traffic is the local hospital, that hospital refuses to engage in any discussion with us on abatement measures (i.e., shuttle buses, off-campus offices for day procedures, staggered schedules, etc). However, we did have the good fortune of being approached by a professor from Georgia Tech with some grant money, who thought that a Health Risk Assessment of our situation would make an interesting study for her and some of her graduate students. We accepted her offer.

Tonight, she gave a presentation of her findings. Naturally, she concluded that the traffic was having a negative effect on our health on several levels - the pollution from auto emissions, the stress of gridlocked traffic, and so on. Also, the lack of sidewalks and the design of the roads discourages walking, bicycling and other forms of exercise, and exacerbates the traffic problem because everyone drives everywhere. She had statistical data on asthma, obesity, hypertension, and so on that she linked to these issues.

The recommendations were fairly predictable - better transit, more pedestrian access, and sidewalks. She also recommended a board be formed of the communities, neighborhoods and the hospital to monitor the situation and try to arrive at solutions, but noted that the hospital refused to participate in the study with her or even return her contacts. Her group at Georgia Tech is fairly well known and highly regarded in this city, and she had funding from the Johnson & Johnson foundation and support by the CDC - if the hospital was willing to brush them off, why would they start to engage the local community after all this time?

One of my neighbors wanted to talk with me about a strategy moving forward following the presentation, so we went to a local cafe for a beer and some plotting. I finally got home in time to watch "The Daily Show" and post this blog, before collapsing for the night.


GreenSmile said...

its been one of those weeks, Shokai.

I too had rain of that intensity only mine was forming ice on the trees and wires.

then I saw your bailout poster.
I had a good laugh.

I needed that.
funny how unaware you can be of what you are most needing.

GreenSmile said...

that is an oddity I noticed on my one visit near ATL. Not that Buckhead is like everything else in greater Atlanta but I was in a hotel on Peachtree for 3 days, gorgeous weather and never saw a soul on a bike...weird.