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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 75.0° F  Overcast
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Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

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Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby rabble » Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:27 am

Yeah that kinda got your attention dinnit?
This week’s weather fiasco in Atlanta, which stranded thousands of commuters on glassy-slick roads and gridlocked the entire metro region for the better part of 24 hours, was caused by a freak snowstorm, they say. And this is true, in the same way it’s true to say the Civil War started because some guys in Charleston, S.C., started lobbing cannon balls at Fort Sumter. But the real problem in Atlanta isn’t snow; the real problem is history.

Mostly it's about how Georgia and Atlanta in particular value individual and local government so highly that the state response system is basically several hundred counties who all mistrust each other and don't like nobody tellin em what to do. This makes it difficult to prepare for a weather event.

The racism apparently comes in because the Atlanta rail transport system was voted down in the early sixties because the whites didn't want all the africans using it to get to their neighborhoods.
I distinctly remember the joke circulating among white people back then, the one that said that MARTA (the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) actually stood for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta.”

Because if there had been a working rapid rail transit system there would have been fewer stranded commuters, I guess.
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Re: Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby jonnygothispen » Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:41 pm

Madison actually had a trolley on State Street in 1933. That'd be a good idea today, a silent electric Trolley so the buses wouldn't have to use State: They could just pick people up at the intersections.

You can see the Trolley towards the end of this footage from 1933, but at 2:45 you may want to watch the whole thing: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10 ... =2&theater
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Re: Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby TeachInPeace » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:43 am

Because if there had been a working rapid rail transit system there would have been fewer stranded commuters, I guess.[/quote]

Actually, yeah - Atlanta's design is absolutely insane - with one major highway that is the accessible point of ingress/egress from the city. There are just not that many other options to get out to the suburbs/exurbs (and yes, all of the racial politics of the MARTA and white flight are fully accurate. Normal commutes are already 3x longer than necessary. (Experience of driving between Atlanta and New Orleans on multiple occasions)

Meanwhile, as someone who just spent the last week in Birmingham (at a conference) the impact was huge. Not only do they not have the infrastructure to manage snow and ice, but no one knows how to use the few tools they do have. I watch a snowplow meander down the highway at walking speed with its blade up, a police officer spreading salt by hand from the back of a moving pickup, and waiters sprinkling table salt outside the hotel doors. No business was open, no roads were open, no staff could leave the hotel I was in for three days. Pure chaos, for 2 inches and 15 degree weather.
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Re: Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby rabble » Sun Feb 02, 2014 12:16 pm

TeachInPeace wrote:Meanwhile, as someone who just spent the last week in Birmingham (at a conference) the impact was huge. Not only do they not have the infrastructure to manage snow and ice, but no one knows how to use the few tools they do have. I watch a snowplow meander down the highway at walking speed with its blade up, a police officer spreading salt by hand from the back of a moving pickup, and waiters sprinkling table salt outside the hotel doors. No business was open, no roads were open, no staff could leave the hotel I was in for three days. Pure chaos, for 2 inches and 15 degree weather.

I have to agree they got no idea at all what to do with that stuff, but I also have to point out that snow seems to behave differently down dere. I base that on my extensive one-time experience thirteen years ago out near Asheville when it snowed about one inch and I went out driving to show those yokels how a northerner handles it. The roads were glare, smooth, ice. It wasn't snow, it was a skating rink and driving with two wheels on the shoulder barely made a difference. I gave up after a few minutes and went back. Seemed like the snow had landed, melted, and refrozen in seconds and I have to assume that's not unusual.

They need sand and salt trucks a lot more than they need plows and they gotta get out there just about as soon as it starts snowing.

Having said that, yeah you do need a solid infrastructure, supplies, and equipment to make the roads passable. Without those, a decent rail transport system is the next best thing.
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Re: Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby david cohen » Sun Feb 02, 2014 1:36 pm

I moved away from Atlanta in June of 1983. At that point, the white folks referred to MARTA as "Moving Atlantans Rapidly Through Africa". I think that says all you need to know about race relations in the south's largest metro area, where the City is run by one race and the suburbs by another race.

The snow thing has always been an issue in Atlanta (and the south in general). It's so infrequent, so coupled with the worst traffic on the east coast, it's ALWAYS been a clusterfuck. Racism has nothing to do with the fact that Atlanta isn't going to spend millions on snow removal or even on a weather warning system. That's like Wisconsin spending million on hurricane preparedness.
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Re: Snow Didn’t Paralyze Atlanta. Racism Did.

Postby Zoti Bemba » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:58 pm

jonnygothispen wrote:Madison actually had a trolley on State Street in 1933. That'd be a good idea today, a silent electric Trolley so the buses wouldn't have to use State: They could just pick people up at the intersections.

You can see the Trolley towards the end of this footage from 1933, but at 2:45 you may want to watch the whole thing: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10 ... =2&theater


Ironically, it was an ice storm (in 1936?) that killed the electric trolley in Madison, thanks to a combination of downed power lines and inclined tracks. So I'm not so certain that a trolley would have saved Atlanta from this particular disaster.
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