The Blame Game: Who’s Really at Fault for the Mess in ATL?

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    Two inches of snow shuts down one of the biggest cities in this country. People were stranded on roads and interstates for hours, some for two nights.

    How on earth could that happen?

    Well, as a former seven year resident of Atlanta who moved there from Chicago via New York City via Philadelphia- let me tell you what most people won’t tell you because some of them have lived in Atlanta  all their lives and are too close to it to see it.

    First of all the mayor, Kasim Reed, who I know, like and respect, did not prepare for this and was caught off guard.

    With forecasters predicting the conditions well in advance, the roads and streets that the city was responsible for were not salted enough in advance of the storm.

    The interstates and highways that the state was responsible for were not salted enough in advance as well.

    Hence, the state is at fault too.

    Businesses, companies, the school system are equally at fault because they encouraged and in some cases even ordered people to go home, essentially forcing nearly a million people into a traffic vortex on an already over taxed and outdated interstate system.

    It is no secret that Atlanta has one of the worst traffic problems in the country. Which brings me to who holds the biggest responsibility, besides Mother Nature, for the awful Atlanta weather tragedy, and they are the citizens of the Atlanta metro area.

    I’m not blaming the victims. Most of them were just doing what they were told to do on Tuesday- to get in their cars and go home but Atlanta has historically rejected mass transit expansion for decades.

    In late 2012 Atlantans rejected a multi-billion dollar transportation plan that business leaders called an essential bulwark against regional decline. (Source: AJC) The plan which would have helped to relieve congestion at key interstates by creating 29 miles of new rail track to passengers would have been paid for by a mere 1 percent increase in sales tax for only 10-years.

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes, the defeat of the sales tax left the Atlanta region’s traffic congestion problem with no visible remedy and was a failure for the first attempt ever to unify the 10-county region’s disparate voters behind a plan of action.

    Had they voted for the plan, the disaster would still probably have happened but the ball would have been rolling to prevent the next one.

    Why did they reject it? Again, according to the AJC, “distrust in government.” There is huge intervention of the Tea Party in Georgia which wants no taxes raised for anything no matter what. The other reason, and here’s the big one, is fear.

    Having lived there I know many people believe expanded mass transit will give the wrong kinds of people access to their gated and pristine, McMansion communities.

    They want to keep their neighborhoods the way they are.

    The city’s very limited mass transit system is called MARTA, which stands for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority.

    However, the pejorative- the nickname – that seems to fall from most people’s mouths, in private, among their friends who all look like them is MARTA, Moving African-Americans Rapidly Through Atlanta.

    So whether it was the MARTA issue or the fact that the plan wasn’t sold well—Atlanta seems bound to be plagued by bad decisions by both its leaders and voters while it’s already sprawling metro area keeps on growing.

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    24 thoughts on “The Blame Game: Who’s Really at Fault for the Mess in ATL?

    1. fantastic publish, very informative. I ponder why the opposite specialists of this sector do not realize this.
      You should continue your writing. I am confident, you have a
      huge readers’ base already!

    2. I live in Henry County (42 miles south of Buckhead) – now but have called Atlanta home all my 49 years – even with stints in the NAVY (Great Mistakes/Great Lakes/Anartica) clients in Missoula Montana, Wyoming and Claire Michigan, Buffalo, NY; Avon, CT (for some reason my bosses always put me there during the winter). Henry County called Monday evening and closed schools as the ICE was expected to hit us directly. So did Clayton County and Fayette County. I-285 was a good bypass – about 20 years ago. Metro Atlanta rejected the Northern Arch over 20 years ago. Just as the surrounding counties rejected MARTA in the 1970 (Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton, Henry, etc). I remember what my Dad said then, “What do they think will happen – somebodies gonna get on the subway – come rob you and then get back on the subway?”. FYI Atlanta is an island and i 285 is where the rest of Georgia exisit. And Atlanta is turning white again. The interstate was designed the way it was for a few reason – let’s just say Lester Maddox. But for the most part – if you are a native – you know the drill – if they say it’s coming count on 20 miles north or 20 miles south. Go get some groceries (trucks won’t be able to make deliveries) and honkerdown for the next few days. Henry county reopened schools on Monday this week. Boy I love my county :-)

    3. Before I start I just want to say that I have ridden MARTA everyday to work in Downtown Atlanta for the past nine years and I did leave my child at home that day just to be on the safe side. When I left work on Tuesday it was 12:30p. I walked a short distance to the Five Points MARTA Station only to find out that a train had caught fire and the Station was temporarily shut down. I was madness. It
      took over an hour and half for MARTA to figure out what they wanted to do. I finally got to the parking deck and my car at 2:35p. It took me another 6 1/2 hours to get home. With that being said, what people do not realize is that a fair amount of people DRIVE to MARTA stations as I do to catch the train and the buses were very limited because of the gridlock. So MARTA, at least on this day, just contributed to the chaos.

    4. Our recent incident in Atlanta where snow and ice came and crippled
      the city was due to poor planning of the people in charge of the city.
      In my opinion, this comes from people being too complacent in their role
      as leaders , being too comfortable and lax. People don’t always start out that
      way in their positions assigned, but somehow lose their appetite for trying to
      stay on top of things or lose their appetite for helping other. As far as the Transit goes, that is a pitiful story we have all had to deal with for many, many years. It would be nice for someone to step up and get rid of this problem for once

    5. As far as the schools,it is the school officials and parents, the weather report was out and the schools should have been closed Tuesday, or you should have kept your child home……now as far as the highway and streets the people that chose to do the driving are at fault….this weather report has been airing since last week, and I think we all should have listened and took heed to it….so no one can point a finger at no one except yourself…….it surely is not the mayor fault (the mayor is a city official not a state official)

    6. Don you are part right, but like Valorie wrote,’Atlanta has a black mayor but the white Republican governor is pulling his strings. A lot of Blacks live within the city limits. The Whites drive into the city from the suburbs to work downtown.’ You are wrong to blame Citizens for being pawns in this political game. The racist Tea baggers have may legislators scare to do the right thing and as you said , with this no taxes approach,even when it is necessary, nothing will change. Officials who fail to do their jobs should be fired or impeached. in my opinion. I am sick of giving breaks to the ‘haves and making the working drone pay for their mistakes.
      Common Sense.
      Reply ↓

    7. both the Georgia Governor and the city mayor are to blame considering they experienced something similar to this in 2011. and correct me if I’m wrong… but didn’t Atlanta purchase MORE salt trucks when they went with this debacle prior?!? THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!!!

    8. Everyone have their own opinion. It is easy to have all the answers when you are not in the midst of the problem. However, mass transit will not resolve the problem. There are other major cities that do not have mass transit and are operating with no problems. Atlanta largest problem is not having a by pass from the altanta city. Meaning Trucks and cars passing through altanta should not go through the downtown area. They should by pass that area. When 75/85 was under constructions, the genius decided to save money and merge to interstates into one instead of separating the roads. Marta is insufficient. Until there are drastic improvements with Marta, maybe mass transit will be open for discussion.

        • I285 is not a bypass. Interstates for Atlanta metro area I285, I85, I75, and I20. There are just as many blacks and other ethnic races living in the suburb as well as whites.

    9. If I were mayor, I would flip them all off. You want someone to blame, blame ignorant voters who don’t get that our major cities and states need to move their mass transit systems into the 21st Century. Tea Party politicians who heads are in the 18th and 19th century, are going to have a lasting effect on this county, and not in a positive way. Atlanta is just one of many cities in the South that have outgrown its transit routes but undergrown its understanding of its importance. Unfortunately the same fools who will not agree to pay 1 dollar for mass transit will go into euphoria over the possibilty of drilling oil on these very shores. We are in a 2nd Machine Age. Only this time, the machines have better minds that the people, and they are looking to control, not only assist this time. Trust me, this problem is far bigger than a mayor and a governor not placing salt on the roads, or shutting down schools and business sooner or in a more orderly fashion. Seriously.

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    11. I totally agree with those of you who said that sending the children to school was the worst mistake of all. So I blame the school superintendents and even to some degree, the parents. Had the children been at home or with sitters, etc., parents could have gone straight home instead of trying to get to the schools to pick up there kids, therefore making things much, much worse. I know this first hand because my grand children were among the kids stuck at school. My daughter and I have had a long talk about this one…

    12. School closings would have alleviated half of the congestion & allowed ppl to go directly home versus making trips to get to their children.

    13. The School Districts that chose not to close school. 1/2 day of school was a waste of time and put parents children workers on the road unnecessarily.

    14. Hi don…please email what time slot u will be on cnn…i dont watch ERIIN now that u r off..can u get weekends again….its u and Anderson.ty rozzie

    15. I thought that Atlanta had a black mayor????All those black people down there and there seems to be a racial problem.

      • The rejection for mass transit comes from the outer cities which are majority conservative and majority white. The outer cities are considered to be metro Atlanta while not officially being in Atlanta.

      • Atlanta has a black mayor but the Republican governor is pulling his strings. A lot of Blacks live within the city limits. The Whites drive into the city from the suburbs to work downtown.

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