Monday, September 28, 2009

GA 400 & TOLL PLAZA (Maybe is the time to close that thing!!)

Georgia State Route
400 (known commonly as Georgia 400 or just 400, read in either case as "four hundred") is a highway in the U.S. state of Georgia, concurrent with U.S. 19 from exit 4B until its terminus just south of Dahlonega. Georgia 400 goes from Atlanta, at I-85, to Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta, Cumming, Dawson County, and Dahlonega. Like the interstate highways, it is a limited-access road (with exit ramps instead of intersections), but unlike the interstates (which were renumbered by the GDOT in 2000), the exit numbers do not indicate mileage: they still go up sequentially one-by-one. Once 400 passes exit 17 (Georgia 306), it changes from a limited-access expressway into an at-grade divided highway with traffic lights, but still with a high speed limit of 65 miles per hour (105 km/h) and ends at the J.B. Jones Intersection at SR 60 in Lumpkin County.

Between Interstate 85 and Interstate 285, Georgia 400 is designated "T. Harvey Mathis Parkway"; upon reaching the Perimeter (I-285) and beyond, the highway is designated "Turner McDonald Parkway".


Original portion (I-285 to Georgia 306)

Planning for Georgia 400 began in 1954.The initial section north of I-285 was officially dedicated on May 24, 1971 and subsequent additions to the north opened in stages through 1981. The road was subsequently widened in 1989 from its original four-lane configuration to eight lanes between I-285 and Holcomb Bridge Road. The widening projects were necessitated by the massive growth that Georgia 400 brought to northern Fulton and southern Forsyth counties. In December 2005, the Georgia Department of Transportation began widening the section from Holcomb Bridge Road to Windward Parkway from three to four lanes in the northbound direction and from two to four lanes from Windward Parkway to McFarland Parkway. Southbound, the highway is being widened to four lanes between McFarland Parkway and Holcomb Bridge Road. In addition, sound barrier walls and a concrete divider in the median are also being added.

Georgia 400 extension (I-85 to I-285)

The southern section of Georgia 400 (from I-285 to I-85) was the last section to be constructed. It is the only active toll road in Georgia, after the F.J. Torras Causeway toll between Brunswick and St. Simons Island on the southeastern Georgia coast was removed in 2003.

At one time, Georgia 400 was to connect to Interstate 675 in southeast DeKalb county; however, residents in northern DeKalb did not want the highway to cut through their neighborhoods, and a freeway revolt ensued, ending when Jimmy Carter had the plan terminated while he was governor of Georgia. This freeway was to be known as Interstate 475 (a number now used for the Macon bypass), a parallel route to the Downtown Connector which is just a few miles or kilometers further west through downtown and midtown. The point where this road would have had its interchange with the also-doomed Interstate 485 (now Freedom Parkway and Georgia 10 to Stone Mountain Expressway) is now the site of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. A later routing of I-485 would have had that number running from the Downtown Connector (I-75/85), west to the current library, then up what is now 400.

Nonetheless, the northern portion of the inside-the-Perimeter route remained alive, and after lawsuits by residents that spent numerous years in court, GDOT was able to force the extension through Buckhead. Dozens of homes were taken through eminent domain or the threat of it, and the highway was built right though the middle of formerly-secluded and forested neighborhoods. Many remaining residents now live on dead end streets with significant noise pollution or unsightly metal barrier walls.

The road opened to traffic on August 1, 1993, after three years of construction. Existing exits were renumbered up by four to accommodate the extension, which has a single toll plaza in the middle of its length. Contrary to public belief, the bonds that funded the construction of Georgia 400 south of I-285 will not be paid off until 2011. There is also currently no direct access from Georgia 400 southbound to I-85 northbound or vice versa, except by an indirect route via Sidney Marcus Boulevard. In addition, the North Line for Atlanta's MARTA system was constructed in the median from the Glenridge Connector to south of Lenox Road, and was opened on June 8, 1996.


The Georgia 400 toll plaza, operated by the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), collects 50-cent tolls in both the northbound and southbound directions. Each direction has two open-road toll lanes, which collect tolls at highway speeds using the Georgia Cruise Card electronic tag, and seven gated toll lanes which accept either cash or Cruise Cards. The toll facility handles a total of approximately 120,000 vehicles per day. About 37% of transactions are paid via Cruise Card. The same technology is also used by SunPass in Florida, TxTag in Texas, and PikePass in Oklahoma; however, none of these has an agreement to accept the tags of the others.

In March 2009, local TV news reports began trying to generate controversy regarding tolls on the road, since SRTA reported that enough money has been collected to pay the bonds used to construct the road (though prepayment prior to 2011 is prohibited). However, the road costs two million dollars per year just to maintain (plus occasionnal repaving), and it would cost several million more for the demolition of the toll plaza. The road would then require money that the state does not have, as it has already committed to other projects which it cannot fund. This includes the reconstruction of the tollway's northern interchange at I-285, expected to cost two billion dollars

City of ATL - Fire Department Van: "NO BREAK LIGHTS!!" - What??

I was driving South East on Peachtree Street on a raining day and next thing I noticed was a City of Atlanta Firefight Van without the back left side break lights. It was interesting, because I have being stopped by Police Officers just for the little freaking tag light. I guess the break light is even more important than the tag light, but because it belongs to the City of Atlanta, and it is a government vehicle, I guess it's OK to be driven around without the break light. Look at the picture. (Hey, and at Peachtree St there are Police Officers every where... Believe me!! Don't get caught in a bad day when the traffic is not moving and your car kind stop on the crossing pedestrians lines... They love it! I mean the COPs will ticket you for sure!!! They don't care if the traffic is not moving....)

Any ways, we are driving by the City with our camera, showing the beauty and the others thing as well. So, folks: BE AWARE OF OUR LENS!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cherokee Indian on a Horse (Statue at Former Dodge Place in Marietta, GA)

Cherokee Horse History
If you ask a Cherokee tribal member how long they have lived in the area of Western North Carolina, South Caroline and Georgia, they will say that they have always been there, that the Creator put them there. If you ask an archeologist or Dr. Barbara Duncan, she will say that evidence dates the Cherokee as having been here for thousands of years. No matter what you believe, the Cherokee have been in North Carolina, South Caroline and Georgia for a long time. They have deep rooted traditions and culture and a great history with horses.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is descendants of the Cherokee people, who stayed in the mountains during the forced removal that led to the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma.
While touring the Oconaluftee Indian Village a replica of a Cherokee village from

250 years ago, you have to try some traditional Cherokee food and glimpse the past. The village exhibits living history. There are various homes where Cherokee people are making pottery, canoes, bread and more. Maybe you did not even think about this, but

250 years ago, the Cherokee kept their horses away from the village up further in the mountains. They didn't have fences and didn't want the horses running through the village. The women in particular didn't want the horses running through their gardens.
Horse stealing was also a problem. The Cherokee would steal from the colonists and vice versa, so at one point the Cherokee began marking their horses, so if they were stolen they would be able to tell.
The Cherokee were avid traders and began trading horses and selling them. They also began passing their horses down from father to son. The horses became a source of pride and travelers of the day wrote about the Cherokee people's quality horses. There is much more horse history, but Dr. Duncan and Davy Arch tells it best.
The Cherokee dance and sing to celebrate things for which they are grateful.

They had one for the horse, which you can see and hear during a performance of the live show "Unto These Hills". Performed in a large outdoor theatre, this show tells a bit about the early and more recent Cherokee history. Unto These Hills has been performed since 1950. The music of the horse dance will certainly get into your head. Having horses made life easier for the Cherokee and, from what Davy Arch says, the Cherokee like the personalities of individual horses, because they are a lot like people. The traditional horse song has a pretty catchy melody. You'll have to watch the "Equitrekking: Destination Carolinas" episode to see it. There, you can plug this episode.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Atlanta Fire Department

Office of the Fire Chief
Joel Baker, Interim Fire Chief
The Fire Chief's Office is responsible for the overall operation and direction of the Atlanta Fire Department through the implementation of the agency's strategic plan. The office also ensures that the plan's objectives are proactive and consistent with the City of Atlanta's mission, vision and values.The office consists of the Office Assistant, Executive Secretary, Fire Chief's Aid, the Chaplain and the Public Information Officer. The Office of Professional Standards is a section within the Office of the Fire Chief and is responsible for background investigations, internal affairs, advocacy and recruitment.

Support Services
Huley B. Dodson, Deputy Chief
This division monitors fire code enforcement, fire inspections, fire safety education and fire investigations. This division includes the Fire Marshal’s Office, Fire Prevention and Education, Training, Communications and Information Technology and maintenance of all real property and administration.

Tony Davidson, Deputy Chief
The Atlanta Fire Department’s Operations Division is responsible for responding and mitigating disastrous incidents within the City from 30 fire stations. The agency handles an average 125 incidents per day including Fires, Hazardous Materials calls, Rescue and Emergency Medical Services Alarms and Homeland Security Responses/Planning.

The Office of Special Operations is a part of this Division and handles the planning of Special Events and Emergency Medical Services.

Airport Fire Administration
B. Nishiyama Willis, Deputy Chief
The Airport Fire Service's mission is to prevent disastrous incidents from occurring and to minimize damage to life, property and the environment in the event that a disastrous incident should occur. The Airport Fire Service consists of 208 employees, 202 sworn firefighters and 6 civilian employees. We provide aircraft fire protection, structural fire protection, Emergency Medical Services protection, and Hazardous Materials/Special Rescue Response protection to the traveling public and employees of Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport. The fire service also operates and oversees the largest automatic defibrillator program in the country.

(Sources: City of Atlanta)

Grady's Ambulances at Work in Downtown Atlanta

Opened in 1892, Grady Health System grew up with Atlanta. Most Atlantans know Grady for its trauma and emergency services. You’ve seen Grady ambulances on scene and Grady surgeons on television during local disasters. As the only level I trauma center within 100 miles of metro Atlanta, we make sure full trauma surgical teams are in the hospital 24/7 - ready when you need us.

But maybe you didn’t know our emergency services also include asthma, burn, sickle cell and stroke care. And don’t forget our critical care and intensive care units – including our neonatal intensive care unit. So no matter what the problem is or how small the patient is, we have trained doctors and staff available - ready when you need us.

Speaking of doctors, Grady is an internationally recognized teaching hospital staffed exclusively by doctors from Emory University and Morehouse schools of medicine. In fact, 25 percent of all doctors practicing medicine in Georgia received some or all of their training at Grady. We are also accredited by The Joint Commission – that shows patient care and safety matter to us.

But that’s not all we do. Grady provides primary care services at our Primary Care Center and eight Neighborhood Health Centers located around Fulton and DeKalb counties. Why? Because we want to you have a primary care physician to help you stay healthy.

Why stop there - Grady's other service centers include a Diabetes Center, Georgia Cancer Center for Excellence and Avon Foundation Breast Health Center. Grady is also a Regional Perinatal Center. And, we have provide a dedicated 60 Plus service line for older adults, Teen Health Services and 100 other subspecialty services.

Because of our around the clock service and medical expertise, Grady houses Georgia’s Poison Center and 24-hour Rape Crisis and Advice Nurse lines. And, our Infectious Disease Program was named one of the top three HIV/AIDS outpatient clinics in the country.

Grady Health System was created by and named for Henry W. Grady, editor of the "Atlanta Constitution," who worried about the lack of quality health care for Atlanta's poor. Since that time, Grady has grown considerably from its original three story, 110-bed facility. It now stands as one of the largest health systems in the United States.

(Read More at: Grady Health System)

Atlanta Police SUV & Prisioners Transportation Van

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Atlanta Police Motorcycles Squad

Police motorcycle

A police motorcycle is a motorcycle used by various police forces and departments. They may be custom designed to meet the requirements unique of a particular use. A police motorcycle is often called a "motor" by police officers in the United States. Similarly, motorcycle units are known as "motor units" and motorcycle officers are known as motor officers.

The maneuverability of the motorcycle on crowded streets offer advantages not provided by larger, more traditional police vehicles.

The motorcycle's relatively small size allows it to get to accident scenes more quickly when incidents such as traffic collisions slow down access by four-wheel vehicles.


Police officers have used motorcycles—primarily for the enforcement of traffic laws and as escort vehicles—since the early 20th century.

Chief August Vollmer of the Berkeley, California Police Department is credited with organizing the first official police motorcycle patrol in the United States in 1911. However, several police forces around the country reported using motorcycles as patrol vehicles earlier. Harley-Davidson credits Detroit, Michigan as being the first purchaser of police motorcycles in 1908. The police department in Evanston, Illinois also purchased a belt-driven motorcycle for its first motorcycle police officer in 1908, and the Portland, Oregon Police Bureau had a police officer who used his personal motorcycle to patrol the city as early as 1909.

The role of the motorcycle as inexpensive public transportation evolved in the 1930s, and their use by police and the armed forces also grew, providing a stable production market for the more utilitarian machines, especially as Europe rearmed after World War.

Motorcycles Used

Police motorcycles in the United States and Canada typically use purpose-built motorcycles marketed by Harley-Davidson, Kawasaki, Honda, or BMW. Kawasak Police Motorcycles, which were built for the US market in Lincoln, Nebraska, ceased production in September 2005.

In Germany, BMW Motorrad is the largest provider of motorcycles for authority use.

In the United Kingdom the most common police motorcycles are the BMW RT series and the Yamaha FJR1300. Police forces have withdrawn the Honda ST1300 Pan-European since the death of an officer was blamed on the machine. Some police forces also use scooters within towns, or special-purpose machines such as unmarked (covert), or off-road motorcycles.

Of the British manufacturers themselves, Triumph motorcycles, built at Meriden, were used by some British and mainly Commonwealth police forces until 1983 when the factory closed. The police version of the Triumph Thunderbird was nicknamed the Saint, an acronym of "Stops Anything In No Time". Norton's Commando Interpol and later Wankel rotary engine Interpol 2 motorcycle were used by some British forces until that firm's collapse in the early 1990s.

Other marques such a BSA were used by some forces although only the Velocette LE 'noddy-bike' model proved as popular with the police as the Triumphs.

In 2008, BMW claimed to be the largest seller of motorcycles for authority use, as more than 100,000 BMW motorcycles were in official use in over 150 countries on five continents.

In 2007, BMW sold 4,284 police motorcycles worldwide. BMW produces police-specific models such as the R1200RT and R900RT, the latter not available to the general public. More than 225 U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the California Highway Patrol, have BMW authority motorcycles in their fleets of patrol vehicles.

Harley-Davidson has maintained a long relationship with police departments and law-enforcement agencies.

For the 2009 model year, Harley-Davidson offers the FLHTP Electra Glide, the FLHP Road King, the XL883 Sportster and the new XB12XP Buell Ulysses Police motorcycle. The FLHTP Electra Glide and the FLHP Road King are also offered as Fire/Rescue motorcycles.

(Info. Source Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

Atlanta Mounted Police Patrol

The Mounted Patrol

Mounted patrol units are a critical component of police visibility and are the best method of crowd control for festivals, parks and major sporting events. As well, they increase police visibility and provide perspective from which to monitor activity. The Atlanta Police Foundation has restored the mounted unit to Atlanta by providing start-up costs for the stables and training arena, as well as the purchase of horses.

The mounted unit currently has twelve officers. Eleven officers and their mounts are assigned to patrol a regular beat and special details, such as festivals, parades and other community events. One additional officer and three horses are in training. The unit will continue to expand through 2008.

Adopt-a-Horse Program

Through the Adopt-A-Horse Program, individuals and businesses can sponsor one of the Mounted Patrol horses for a contribution of $5,000. Currently eleven horses are sponsored by individuals, families, businesses and organizations. A plaque is mounted on the stall of each horse that is adopted to give special recognition to the donor(s). For more information on horses available for adoption, please contact Grant Hawkins at 404.586.0180.

(Source: The Atlanta Police Foundation)