'Cartrina'

Even after the snow melts, Atlanta's traffic will be a disaster

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Let’s face it: Atlanta traffic is a basket case on a sunny spring day. It’s a ramblin’ wreck nearly every day of the year.

Ask any Augustan who has business in the capital city: You have to build in an hour or so of extra travel time just in case of a traffic jam, and even then you may be late.

It’s little wonder, then, that even a routine snowstorm for the North would bring such a snowplow-poor city on an apparently salt-free diet to its knees.

And while Augusta appears to have gotten by much easier, with mostly a gentle nighttime snowfall Tuesday night, we had much the same forecast as Atlanta. In the face of it, and in an abundance of caution, Richmond County schools folded their tents and took Tuesday completely off; Columbia County schools closed early, far in advance of the storm’s advance. Ditto with other governments and businesses in the Augusta area.

And our traffic is nowhere near the creeping catastrophe that Atlanta’s is.

Why were Gov. Nathan Deal and Mayor Kasim Reed taken so by surprise? Why, with that forecast, was school even in session? Why weren’t “nonessential” government offices closed earlier?

Even in the infamous Katrina hurricane, we’ve always felt that adults need to take more responsibility for themselves – and, indeed, anyone in Atlanta with a smart phone or television could have seen this coming. Still, if their business or government leaders expected them to be there, what could they do?

This was Atlanta’s “Cartrina,” with thousands and thousands of stranded motorists, school kids sleeping in buses and schools, vehicles abandoned on stalled freeways, hungry children in cars and a birth in at least one. Some folks slept in grocery stores, while others took upward of 24 hours to get home.

As in New Orleans, the city’s and state’s leadership has become the focus of national question and scorn.

“This was poor planning on the mayor’s part and the governor’s part, period,” NBC weatherman Al Roker said, noting forecasts that predicted trouble as early as Monday.

Initially, city and state leaders were defensive, claiming the severity of the storm had been unexpected. They had to back off that claim even before some Atlantans got home.

To his credit, Gov. Deal Thursday apologized and promised a top-to-bottom review of what happened.

Good. But it needs to be comprehensive. We would urge the governor, mayor and leaders of all the various government entities in the Atlanta region to come together for a military-style “After-Action Review.” Look honestly at how it could’ve been prevented with planning, coordination and perhaps a bit more supplies and equipment.

That review also ought to take into account the fact that the poor planning goes much deeper than this week’s “snowmageddon.” Atlanta has a serious traffic problem year-round, perhaps the worst in America. It is
exacerbated by the fact that outlying regions never much bought into mass transit, dumping every commuter’s car onto an overburdened road and highway system.

Voters in the region may only have made things worse by rejecting a new transportation sales tax in 2012, called TSPLOST, that would’ve designated billions for infrastructure improvements.

“It’s not an act of nature or God,” Atlanta Magazine Deputy Editor Rebecca Burns wrote on this week’s disaster at
Politico.com. “This fiasco is man-made from start to finish.”

It’s Atlanta’s Cartrina. And lessons need to be learned. Fast.

Comments (27) Add comment
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ymnbde
10358
Points
ymnbde 01/31/14 - 06:27 am
7
1
Cartrina was made worse by Crimetrina

Have you ridden marta lately?
It's just a wee bit frightening
The potential for violence, and the actuality of aggressive and disrespectful behavior, is enough to keep the rational person away.
And we read far too much of the actual violence on public transportation.
Young black males commit almost all the violent crime in Atlanta.
And there is too much violent crime in Atlanta.
and no rational person is going to lock themselves in a small space
around potentially violent people
when Atlanta lessens their crime problem, the traffic problem will lessen to manageable levels, and more people will ride marta.
Education will fix their crime problem
and school choice will fix their education problem
and their traffic woes
the "outlying regions" are simply behaving rationally
Atlanta is not

my.voice
5081
Points
my.voice 01/31/14 - 08:20 am
7
0
And you want government to

And you want government to run your healthcare. Priceless.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 01/31/14 - 08:23 am
2
4
I read on other another

I read on other another source that GDOT has been cut tremendously in recent years. I hope the Governor's review will access if being under staffed was a factor. If one truck can treat just 2.5 miles of single lane roadway, one can see how the spiraling interstate system around ATL can stress an under staffed agency. The situation begs for more resources and treatment of streets in advance of storms. But you have to heed the warnings.

Riverman1
90291
Points
Riverman1 01/31/14 - 08:23 am
7
3
Weather Report Changed at 3 AM

The weather reports originally said Atlanta would be lightly hit because the storm would mainly leave precipitation to the south. The forecast changed at 3 AM. It was just a fluke thing. It happens.

seenitB4
93490
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 08:37 am
8
4
The Blame Game

The Gov & Mayor did the best they could,....we were told we would only have a light dusting of snow..the report changed on Tuesday at 3am...but don't worry....some won't like the results & they will gripe again..

Look for changes in truckers ability to travel THROUGH Atlanta...look for more taxes for huge road changes---possible new interstates...

LOOK at that map...MANY 18 wheelers in view...what other city has the traffic that Atlanta does...

Change will definitely come & they still will GRIPE GRIPE GRIPE!

harley_52
25055
Points
harley_52 01/31/14 - 08:50 am
8
2
This Sort Of Chaos....

...would never happen if the Army were in charge. Contingency plans are carefully drawn, coordinated, and practiced before actually needed. Then they're filed away, rehearsed periodically, and put into action when the crisis actually occurs.

The Weather Channel guy (Jim Cantore) was in Atlanta covering the snowfall and he said Atlanta looked like a fire ant nest that had just been poked with a stick.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 08:57 am
7
3
Politicizing natural

Politicizing natural disasters is an all time low. Sure the schools should have been closed, but businesses wouldn't have been and the same traffic problems would have occurred. The south would be wasting money to budget for snow troubles in the future-especially since we have shortfalls already. Why blame the Gov and not the Mayors. Who decided for Richmond county to close their schools. Can the Gov. force all schools in the state to close? Then the argument that we go by the info provided by the weather service-and how many times have they been wrong. We have closed schools before and no snow-course now that probably helps to furlough school employees.

harley_52
25055
Points
harley_52 01/31/14 - 09:12 am
5
1
"Politicizing natural disasters is an all time low."

Not sure what you mean by "politicizing" in this case, Bizkit.

I don't think finding the responsible public official and expecting them to do their jobs more effectively is the same thing as attempting to score political points via their failure(s).

They are in charge, after all....

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 09:15 am
1
0
Dust of that 3 inch Emergency Preparedness Manual. Use it.
Unpublished

Dust of that 3 inch Emergency Preparedness Manual. Use it.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 09:18 am
1
0
Emergency Preparedness. Cheap talk for politicians.
Unpublished

Emergency Preparedness. Cheap talk for politicians.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 09:21 am
10
1
Not locally, but watching CNN

Not locally, but watching CNN and MSNBC they are demonizing Deal because he is a Rep governor. If our Governor was Harry Reid the media, other than local, wouldn't even mention what happened here. Locally the blame is spread around, but nationally it is "all the fault of Republican Governor Deal".

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 09:18 am
1
0
Kids will attend 180 days of school even if hell freezes over.
Unpublished

Kids will attend 180 days of school even if hell freezes over.

soapy_725
43949
Points
soapy_725 01/31/14 - 09:20 am
1
0
School buses are unsafe at best. Yea. Save the children, Yea.
Unpublished

School buses are unsafe at best. Yea. Save the children, Yea.

seenitB4
93490
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 09:30 am
6
1
bizkit

Deal got mad with cnn & refused to give them an interview....he finally did sit down with wolf ..hahah

But you are right...the national media are having a field day with this...but, the truckers will pay a price for this log jam....when you look at the photos you can see many 18-wheelers.....they probably will restrict their movement through Atlanta...we really need a east/west corridor for the traffic...it is mind boggling, even on the good weather days.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 09:54 am
6
0
I lived in Atlanta a number

I lived in Atlanta a number of years and traffic was always a problem, but now it's just ridiculous.

seenitB4
93490
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 10:03 am
5
2
When did they know--

4:53 AM
January 27, 2014

Winter storm watch expanded

Weather Service expands its winter storm watch to include the entire metro Atlanta area.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 10:28 am
2
1
Really it is like Katria

Really it is like Katria because most everyone ignored the warnings. But how times have we been warned of storms, snow, etc. only to be disappointed. I didn't believe it would snow here-maybe flurries but no accumulations-why would I default to that-because of years of empty promises of snow.

itsanotherday1
46849
Points
itsanotherday1 01/31/14 - 10:28 am
4
0
Darned if you do and...

I clearly recall people criticizing local officials for OVERREACTING in closing schools, etc. in times past when severe winter weather didn't materialize.

Do you really expect Georgia to buy a bunch of equipment just to sit and rust, and be used once every few years?

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 10:33 am
4
0
"When did they know" funny

"When did they know" funny how important that is about this silly weather storm, but in regard to Benghazi the fact Obama knew it was a terrorist attack within an hour of the attack doesn't seem to matter. "When did they know", "What did they know", "What difference does that make now"- Hilary gave Rep a talking point for eternity. Accused of a failure-default to "What difference does that make now". Works every time. Gov. Deal shouldn't have taken the blame like Hilary but then punt to "What difference does that make now". Issue closed.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 01/31/14 - 10:32 am
1
5
Let's not manufacture stuff.

Let's not manufacture stuff. Last time I checked the mayor was a Democrat. I doubt that Deal is being criticized by CNN because he is a Republican. The criticism is due to the state not being prepared as he rightfully admitted. I saw two female CNN journalists interviewing the mayor and they were "combative" with the mayor, the reason cited by the governor said when giving his reason for refusing CNN an interview.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 10:34 am
4
0
Why would anyone but north

Why would anyone but north georgia be prepared for snow storms? Like living in North Dakota and having hurricane measures.

Bizkit
34262
Points
Bizkit 01/31/14 - 10:36 am
6
0
Should the Governor take

Should the Governor take credit for schools closing in Richmond county? I see this is just another phony scandal. Time to move on.

seenitB4
93490
Points
seenitB4 01/31/14 - 10:47 am
3
3
BTW

THe Mayor was fantastic through this ordeal & assisted the Gov in every way...the interstates were not his call (mayor)...he caught the fallout & it wasn't fair....we have many Mayors in the complex Atlanta region....at least Mayor Reed stood up to the problem....I really like the way that Reed & Deal work together...if only we saw that in congress.
seeyall later

Fiat_Lux
16205
Points
Fiat_Lux 01/31/14 - 11:05 am
5
1
Schools in those counties should have been closed.

School board members and superintendents should have been paying attention, even at 4:30 am, and then closed the schools. Parents would have had to accommodate that action and at least some percentage of them would have been at home and not on the road trying to get home from work Tuesday afternoon and night. There still would have been a mess but it wouldn't have involved school kids the way it did.

It doesn't make sense to buy snow plows, but salt and sand don't rust or expire. And Atlanta will always have dump trucks and people with shovels.

Sweet son
11078
Points
Sweet son 01/31/14 - 11:45 am
4
1
Deal apologized and took the heat!

Reed, as would be expected, pointed the finger and said he had his 'stuff' (s*#t) in order. LOL!

Poor Deal has had a bad time with the weather since he became governor. Two metro Atlanta shutdowns in three years.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 01/31/14 - 12:55 pm
1
4
Sweet son

Tell us why it would be expected that the mayor would point the finger.

Anyway, Initially the governor tried blaming the meteorologists until they "jumped" him. In the end I think he handled it the best he could; own it and move on by finding out how to do it better next time.

Truth Matters
7825
Points
Truth Matters 01/31/14 - 12:59 pm
1
4
"Should Deal take credit for

"Should Deal take credit for Richmond County schools closing?"

In an ELECTION year one takes credit where ever one can.
Now if the question becomes does Deal DESERVE credit for Richmond closing, we all know the answer to that.

Sarcasm appreciated..have a nice day. :-)

burninater
9786
Points
burninater 01/31/14 - 01:09 pm
2
2
A key point being missed here

A key point being missed here in the Mayor vs Governor responsibility debate is that what people are calling "Atlanta" in this discussion was actually the greater Atlanta area. This includes municipalities and jurisdictions NOT under the Atlanta mayor's authority. The city of Atlanta response can be lain at the mayor's feet, but the governor was the individual responsible for managing the greater regional preparedness and response.

harley_52
25055
Points
harley_52 01/31/14 - 01:16 pm
1
0
burninater....

.....is right again.

justthefacts
23852
Points
justthefacts 01/31/14 - 01:21 pm
3
1
harley

You mean burn is correct again (he often is). But, he is not "right". Center-left I would say. (:

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