Dwight Watt - Watt Thoughts #285 1/30/2014

#285 - Snow and traffic in Atlanta (Watt Thoughts)

Having grown up outside Washington DC where the area was prepared fro snow and saw snow regularly each winter and having lived in various parts of Georgia for the past 31 years from the extreme SE (Brunswick where I saw flakes once in two years) to the extreme NW corner (Lafayette) where I have seen a snow storm of an inch or more a little less than once a year in 7 years and I drive thru downtown Atlanta twice a week including Friday rush hour, I am going to give my perspective.

The storm Tuesday was originally projected to impact south Georgia which seldom sees snow and is not prepared. As Tuesday got closer they moved it to hit more north parts also, but even Tuesday morning in NW GA we expected only a dusting not an inch or more. The extreme lows of single digits were expected. DOT I think was trying to prepare to keep things moving in south Georgia

Atlanta in my twenty plus years of driving thru it does not know how to drive when roads get slippery. I see more people there in rain, snow and ice never slow down.

If the school systems had closed for the day it was more likely the kids were going to have a day of good weather to play in. We closed at my college at 11:30 and from all indications stuff had already started in Atlanta are by then and the systems were probably slow in closing.

There have been many recommendations from governor down that they should have staggered closing that day. However that I do not believe is a feasible idea and one that has not been thought out. First the government does not have the ability to tell businesses when to operate. Secondly there were many government agencies involved and they do not report to a state czar. Each school system makes it own decisions, each city and the state all separately. They should be in communication (GEMA exists for that) but it is the governor, mayors, superintendents, etc. who make final decisions.

The last one in making a staggered decision is that it won't work as the people would stop it. If you let schools out first them employees who will be at home to let the kids in and protect them. I can see the uproar if you did that and child was molested or murdered before parents got home. As a result also once you announce kids are going home offices would empty of people going on home for kids. Staggering schools out would help possibly some in that not all buses on road at same time but we pretty much do that anyway as same buses run several routes for school levels.

The other proposal I saw today is to keep trucks off roads in metro Atlanta (I assume meaning Interstates) during weather problems, but apparently the governor and others have paid no attention that trucks are already barred all time going thru Interstates inside I-285 and they are limited from left two lanes.

I have sat several hours in the evening and on Sunday night parked on I-75 due to traffic accidents and so it does not take much to stop traffic in that area. On the south side of Atlanta in Henry County it is seldom I go thru on I-75 with out at least slowing down to 5mph at least a few minutes.

Atlanta needs to continue looking at ways to improve traffic not just in snow but always. However other large cities I have been in all over the country have very slow commutes also.



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