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Politico has a short, but concise and biting look at why the Atlanta Metro Area found itself in the merciless grip of an arctic blast almost as cold as Dick Cheney's heart.

The article lays much blame on the city's lack of a good metro rail system. Certainly I can vouch for the value of a good transit system. On September 11th, 2001, while the DC Metro was slow going after the reports of the plane falling on the Pentagon, it did manage to eventually get its riders out of the city and back home.

But also the article talks about the dystopian layout of Atlanta and Georgia and therein, the root of the problem.

Kasim Reed, mayor of Atlanta, is the face you see on CNN and the guy called out by Al Roker, but he’s only one of more than 60 mayors of the towns and cities that make up the Atlanta region, which, depending on whose metric you use consists of 10, 15, or 28 counties (each with their own executive officers).

 Atlanta’s patchwork of local governments is rooted in early Georgia history; the state has more counties—159—than any other in the country, save Texas. But while other metro areas strove to consolidate city and county operations in the mid-to late twentieth century, Atlanta grew more balkanized.

I knew about the myraid counties that make up Atlanta, but I did not know there were that many. I also did not know Georgia had 159 counties total.

The article talks about the difference between Atlanta The Actual City Designation, and Atlanta The Metropolitan Area. (Or if you prefer, The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell Metropolitan Statistical Area.) or even Combined Statistical Area.

Reed is the mayor of the area within the city limits. He has explained this repeatedly on TV today. He has said -- in a nice way -- that once people left the downtown area back to "Atlanta's Bedrooms" via the interstates, they weren't his problem anymore.

Kinda sketchy excuse if you ask me. Greater communication between the state, the city and the surrounding counties was called for. Of course, when you are a region that sees snow with about the same frequency that Michele Bachmann has a coherent thought, assembling task forces to for a coordinated effort for these sorts of things just doesn't take priority among the usual business of state. Hopefully though, this will change things.

I am one who takes an interest in the rise of the Edge City or Bedroom Community, a phenomenon that has been on the rise for the last sixty years, but the interconnected- ness of which, still seems to, at times, perplex populations and elected officials alike.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I left Atlanta in 1999 but I lived there 40 years. (16+ / 0-)

    Balkanization is the precise word for it. Racism is a large factor in the suburban doughnut's indifference to rapid transit and public transportation generally. Suburban whites are afraid Atlanta African-American youths will take the MARTA rapid transit system and its allied buses into the suburbs, steal their TV's, get back on public transportation, and go home. They literally tell me this.

    Find out about my next big thing by reading my blog. Link is here:

    by Kimball Cross on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:03:58 PM PST

  •  They had a snow event in 2011 I heard, (5+ / 0-)

    which was a clusterf**k as well. They don't seem to have put any emergency plans on the books, or if they have them they don't feel the need to implement them. I used to be a 1st responder and a great amount of time and effort and drilling goes into area wide coordination. Everyone knows where the SOP books are and who to call for support. Shame on their system, it is still hurting people and for many of the same old reasons.

    •  The thing is that in places like Atlanta (9+ / 0-)

      and Birmingham in the South, they don't have "snow events" as much as they have what end up being ice events even if the precipitation that falls from the sky is snow.  As is fairly typical in that part of the world, the snow that came down melted when it hit the roads, but because the air temps were so low it immediately refroze into ice.  According to many accounts, both cities had 1/2 to 1" of ice on the roads within what sounds like about an hour's time.

      One of the Weather Channel meteorologists did a pretty good job of explaining why a couple inches of snow in the South is a very different thing than a couple inches of snow in a place like Minnesota in the dead of winter.  When the ground is totally frozen, the snow blows off of the road and doesn't melt and refreeze.  Whereas in a place like Atlanta where the ground is above freezing, it sticks, melts and then refreezes because of the cold air.

  •  Atlanta roads are horrible! Some of them cross (5+ / 0-)

    each other more than once and get renamed, so you can tell what part of town you are in.  I have heard people have conversations like this:  "The best way to get to Peachtree something is to take this route"  Then the other person says:  "Well, maybe between time x&y, but after 4 p.m. this route is better".

    But I have heard that black professionals are moving to Atlanta because 'We can go to a nice restaurant and not be the only black people there'.

    And most people have no idea how to drive in snow and ice.

    Good luck Mayor Reed!  I think the Republican Governor messed up big time.

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 03:30:10 PM PST

    •  It is not practical to be snow ready in such areas (11+ / 0-)

      Snow is once every 2 or 3 years problem in Atlanta. IN such a case, it is not worth the time and effort ot fight it. The best solution is to use the money on other areas of improving infrastructure and just have basic snow removal budget which the city and state had.

      The problem were the schoolds, businesses , and the private residents who had the option to stay home not choosing to listen to common sense. Forget leaving work early, more people should have opted to stay home. I have friends in IT companies where not a single manager asked employees to stay ahome and telecommute.

      •  Governor Nathan Deal took responsbility (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        207wickedgood, sturunner

        (eventually).  Damn scientists were right about their predictions!

        ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

        by slowbutsure on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 04:00:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cobb County and other suburbs yet to take any (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          responsibility. I guess they will show up only when the Braves stadium opens to take another dig at Atlana.

          •  If you ever check your comments, please (0+ / 0-)

            explain.  I am a Ramblin' Wreck and visit once an year, but do not follow local policts...

            ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

            by slowbutsure on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:49:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  When Braves relocation was announced.. (0+ / 0-)

              Cobb County officials made it a point to distance themselves form the city of Atlanta and pointed to the area near one of the traffic jams being blamed on Reed as how superior it was as a location to the one at Turner field. Funny how they claim that area as so superior to Atlanta when it is convenient, but then say nothing when that same area's traffic problems are blamed on Atlanta.

      •  "practical" has grades. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The problem of "a million vehicles" is both a transit planning problem and a failure to cancel activities in a timely manner problem.  That's a grand scale analysis, and criticisms along those lines are perfectly proper.

        But even at much lower scales, things could have been done to keep things moving more cleanly.

        A few V-Blades for city trucks or tractors can be had for 5-figures.  Peanuts in any budget, and invaluable when you need them.  There was enough warning to borrow these from another city or even state, assuming that purchasing something that "we use 3x a decade" is considered inappropriate.

        For a more tenuous plan, maybe even standard street sweeper trucks would have been somewhat effective in clearing the road surfaces.  Did anyone think of that, or even try?  Sometimes you just have to make do without "specialty" equipment.

        -7.75 -4.67

        "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

        There are no Christians in foxholes.

        by Odysseus on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 05:04:30 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good points (5+ / 0-)

          But one should ask why did the surrounding counties not buy any of the same equipment. The city of Atlanta can improve some logistics but they don't deserve even half the blame. I live in the suburbs and our traffic jams were just as bad. A lot of corporations are spread throughout the metropolitan area and they were mostly derelict in assessing the weather conditions. And employees are too afraid of making a case for staying home. Luckily, I don't give a shit and I told my manager that I was working form home.

          •  Because the surrounding (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            counties want the benefits of living near a large city, but not so close they want to contribute to it. A couple of years ago there was a proposition to tax Georgians for trauma centers OTP. I voted against it, as I already support Grady with city taxes but they refuse to. We want to build rail, they want an outer perimeter -- punching a new hole in the belt when it gets too tight. Let them pay for easing traffic in their own counties.

            It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

            by sboucher on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 09:46:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  street sweepers aren't going to do (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Carol in San Antonio, Odysseus

          a damn thing about ice, and with snow I imagine all they'll do is scatter it all over the place instead of piling it out of the way. Also, snow can be heavy....I've heard of regular pickup trucks with plow blades mounted to the front can sustain frame damage. I would think that you could damage a street sweeper pretty quickly trying to push more than ~1" of snow, especially if it's wet snow as opposed to powdery/light snow.

          You WANT me on that server! You NEED me on that server!

          by nota bene on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:45:24 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  But it appears you need better emergency (5+ / 0-)

        preparedness.  If you can't handle 2 inches of snow then you have to have a plan for what you are going to do anyway even if it's closing all the freeways or whatever or closing all the schools.  Our governors have done that statewide when the weather gets to the point where they fear school buses may have trouble and get stranded.  

        A big factor in why northern cities keep functioning is not just equipment, it's planning and people knowing what to do.  

      •  somebody has to drive the snowplows (0+ / 0-)

        I've never done it, but from what I understand driving a snowplow is about as blue collar a job as you can get. Unpredictable schedule, terrible hours, the worst of conditions, fatigue, etc. Doesn't surprise me at all that when the South does get snow that they don't have people just standing by to drive plows. And ice storms are even worse....I'd rather see 12" of snow than so much as 1" of ice.

        Same goes for salt trucks, really. What are those workers supposed to be doing 365 days of out most years, and only 364 out of about every third year or so?

        Best thing is for those cities to just up and close for a day or two, it really is. Declare a holiday and don't make people feel obligated to be out in hazardous conditions.

        You WANT me on that server! You NEED me on that server!

        by nota bene on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 11:35:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Cobb County and other suburbs should share blame (8+ / 0-)

    You know Cobb County administrators like to distance themselves from Atlanta to the extent where they will engineer a move of the Braves from a perfectly fine stadium just 10 miles up the highway to Cobb County just so that Cobb County folks can be petty about not having to go to the city limits of Atlanta to watch a baseball game. But now, the same freaking county politicians remain silent and hidden as Kasim Reed takes all the blame for video footage of  trafic james near the same exact location where the Braves will be moving to(I-75 and I-285) .

    Of course, the state has responsibility for all the highways.
    But beyond that, a lot of these jammed highways ( 400 North, top end of I-285, Northwestern I-285) were in
    1) Cobb County
    2) Sandy Springs
    3) Dunwoody
    4) Roswell
    5) Alpharetta
    6) City of Atlanta
    7) Some other misc small towns
    THe Atlanta is only one of many cities/counties caught up in this. Yet other than Gov Deal, Kasim reed is the only one taking the blame?

    And the problem was not salting the roads. The only mistake was the government , schools - public and private, and private bueinsses not closing their offices once it became obvious in the early morning that ATL would be hit by snow.

    •  Have a rec! (4+ / 0-)

      I live and work in Birmingham myself, but we have similar issues (on a smaller population scale) with sprawling suburbs and exurbs. This is compounded by a bus system with limited hours and routes, and there is no rail service at all. The commuter area covers 7 counties. If you need a full-time job with decent pay ...

      It was Snowmageddon here, too. Almost 12,000 students were stranded in K-12 schools, the vast majority outside the city and some outside the metro area. The university where I work refused to admit there was a problem til snow had been falling for 3 hours. That's 15K employees and about 20K mostly commuter students right there. But all you hear is how "Birmingham" and "Mayor Bell" screwed up.

      I completely agree that most places never should have opened for business/classes on Tuesday. The forecast on Sunday showed that the snow would extend awwwwwfully close to BHM and ATL metro areas. Even though I live and work inside city limits, I made contingency plans and checked my stores of kibble and kitty litter (priorities!). By 5:30 am Tuesday, when I got out of bed, it was crystal clear that we were getting hit.

      Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

      by susanala on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 06:02:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  put some big bags of kitty litter (0+ / 0-)

        in your car trunk; preferably 2 above each wheel axel.

        The weight helps the tires grab and the litter can be spread before and aft each back tire to give traction. A little shovel of scoop, even an old measuring cup will do.

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:59:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mika of Morning Joe out of line with Reed (6+ / 0-)

    She was flat out a rude idiot. I don't mind being tough on politicians. But she chose a wrong time to decide to act like she is reporting on Watergate or some Wall Street crisis. The way she treated Kasim Reed was reprehensible when you consider her regular demeanor on that show.

    When Kasim kept saying that he doesn't mind taking blame, but at least be accurate about it, she was being rude and dismissive and asking Kasim to snitch out other politician names. Why the hell should he burn bridges and name names? How tough is it to figure out that Atlanta is just a portion of the Atlanta metropolitian region. hell just recently Cobb County was big news for luring the Braves from the city of Atlanta because its residents who neighbor the Atlanta city limits do not consider Atlanta one of their own cities. Funny how Mika couldn't figure out that they share just as much blame as Kasim Reed , the governor , and a bunch of other small city mayors (Sandy Springs, Roswell, Alpharetta) to the north of the city limits.

    •  Very tough for some people (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Paul Ferguson, ozsea1

      For example take Detroit. Repubs love to say "Detroit! An example of liberal governing!"

      Among the many reasons why that's bullshit is because, Detroit the City proper may have failed, but Detroit the Metro Area is thriving. (in fact, the growth of the Metro Area may have come at the expense of the City, but that's a whole other thread.)

      But yes, people often cannot distinguish between a City and the surrounding counties of people who often work in, but do not live in those cities.

      Message to Dems: We HAVE to start showing up for Midterms.

      by Jank2112 on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 07:46:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The "lost" population of Detroit (0+ / 0-)

        can be found in the ring of suburbs surrounding it. Ditto, Atlanta and many other cities.

        These cities should set up toll booths with monthly, or yearly passes for those coming into the city — to pay for city services and facilities they use.

        I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington ... *I'm asking you to believe in yours.* Barack Obama

        by samddobermann on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 03:05:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mika being a b**** (3+ / 0-)

    Seriously, Mika save some of that bitchy scorn for people who deserve it - such as foreign policy "experts" and Wall street apologists who show up on your show. She is supposedly the liberal voice on this show, but her body language was so insulting.

  •  Charlie English GEMA Chief is to blame (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, Carol in San Antonio

    As much as I don't care for Deal, it's the GEMA chief that truly fell asleep at the wheel. If Deal doesn't find  a way to fire him, then Deal should take the blame at that point.

    Charlie English looked truly clueless at local press conferences and actually was contradicted by Deal right in front of his face , a rarity at a press conference after Charlie said that at 3pm Tuesday, he didn't think there was still a problem

  •  IMHO, after 2011, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Carol in San Antonio, DuzT

    the Georgia Dept of Trans (GDOT) and City of Atlanta, as well as some other counties, invested in plows, salters, sanders and materials so they wouldn't get caught unprepared.

    This was not, as has been inferred, just a couple of inches of snow, though that was the forecast when I went to bed the night before.  It was a layer of inch-thick ice on every horizontal surface, with up to a couple of inches of powdery snow on top.

    True, Southerners aren't great drivers in inclement weather, and flurries have been known to close schools. But this wasn't due to bad driving.

    What happened was:

    -- by mid-day, people realized it was worse than expected, so businesses and schools poured out at the same time. Rush hour is bad enough without the ice.

    -- solid sheets of ice covering the highways made trucks jack-knife and cars pile-up. Imagine a pile of semis arranged like a beaver dam. Thousands of cars were abandoned.

    -- the plows and sanders couldn't get to the areas because no one could move (though why they didn't go in and work backwards, I don't know).

    The fault lies with the Deal, who, relying on old information, took no action until waaaaaaaaaaay too late; Reed, who was by then unable to use what equipment the City had; the local weather experts for not being more strident earlier; the "bedroom communities" that didn't bother to get any snow equipment; and the entire state for buying the stuff, but not making a plan how to use it nor having a chain of communication among the agencies.

    And it wasn't any better for pedestrians in the city, as my sore bum will attest to.

    I grew up in NY and have lived in Atlanta 20 years. When the GWB was closed by Christie, Atlantans poo-pooed, how could closing one bridge create a newsworthy traffic jam, compared to rush hour in Atlanta? They just couldn't understand the impact.

    Now I think people are making fun of Atlantans because they just can't understand the impact.

    Forecast for 58 degrees tomorrow, thank goodness.

    It's not just a zip code, it's an attitude.

    by sboucher on Thu Jan 30, 2014 at 10:16:40 PM PST

  •  Carol Costello guilty of misplaced rage (0+ / 0-)

    This is another lady I can't stand on the news even if a lot of the time, she has the same liberal viewpoints. She frequently puts in her own editorial "hummm" or "aaaah"s or has some melodramatic reaction to a piece of news.

    Funny how these white women have never been this dismissive in tone and body language to one of the Wall Street fat cats. They treated Kasim Reed like he was guilty of some major scandal.

    I am not even a Reed supporter. I felt he hid the news of the Braves relocation on purpose to avoid any distractions in the public during his reelection. But, fair is fair. Deal messed up by hiring that idiot Charlie for GEMA head. But even Deal took some responsibility. Reed did take responsibility in the local press meets for not developing a protocol to coordinate with school authortieis since he cannot automatically issue a dictate to close the schools.

    The worst thing about Costello is she lives in Atlanta and knows that many of our BIG suburbs did a worse job than the city of Atlanta in preparing for the storm. Not once did we hear a public message from any of the many suburban mayors.

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