Home > Education, MARTA, Transportation, Weather > A few thoughts: The snowbound edition

A few thoughts: The snowbound edition

January 13, 2011

South+WinterWeather=BAD

I get it and I totally understand the fact that Southerners and those of us who transplanted here many moons ago do not do well in bad winter weather. In fact I sympathize with the South because we get trounced as unprepared and unsophisticated because we have a difficult time dealing with and cleaning up bad snow weather. Citizens and visitors alike have to understand that we are just not prepared to handle what is basically a once a decade thing. If we were, we would have a bunch of equipment that sits around and gets outdated before it gets hardly any use. I am probably in the minority but I feel the state and the counties did about a good a job as they could have considering the circumstances. DeKalb reportedly has less than ten salt and sand spreaders and only two snow removal devices. Other counties in the metro are in the same boat. This is one time where I am not going to rail so hard on the county or the state for not being prepared. After all, if the county purchased more snow equipment we all would be howling how much the county squanders our tax dollars. Though I was surprised that by Thursday, there was still ice on some parts of the freeways, I was not complaining like so many around me. I guess I have come to resign myself to the fact that when we have atrocious winter weather this is the response we can expect. And we are not out of the woods yet.

I Love MARTA, but…

Why oh why did MARTA have limited bus service on Wednesday and today. Most people found a way to make it to work. I think that shortened routs or redirected routes would be preferable to nothing at all. The decision makers at MARTA must realize that the bus is a vital link for many folks to get not only to jobs, but to medical appointments, grocery stores and just to be able to get around. Monday and Tuesdays decision to cut bus service was reasonable, but Wednesday Could have been limited to major thoroughfares and retail districts. Most major roads on Wednesday were completely passable by then. I really have to wonder how much of this was MARTA employees not coming in to work because the road were “too bad” and how much was a concern for safety. Of all the people driving on the roads I put more faith in the ability of bus drivers and truck drivers than I do ordinary citizens. I also want to take MARTA to task for its rail schedule. The service was erratic even on Wednesday when MARTA should have been able to get a full complement of train operators. 20-25 minute waits on a train, a transfer and then another 10- 15 minute wait is horrible. This has not been a shining moment for MARTA, and add to that the two murders and the cut in service last year, MARTA is eroding what little public support it has remaining among those of us who have been solid supporters of MARTA over the years.

C’mon DeKalb Schools, make a decision already

DeKalb is always the last system to announce it will be closed because of bad weather. What are they contemplating? Are you afraid to be the first to close? I remember years ago when the school system closed based on a forecast of possible light snow/rain. They were the only system in the metro to close, and people questioned why they pulled the trigger to close schools before the weather event happened. It did not snow, it was a light cold rain. Check the conditions and if they do not meet your criteria for safety close the schools. A bad decision is a bad decision, you made it, you move on. I would not be at all surprised if that bad decision is still in the back of some people heads. By the way, I drove past two schools on my way to work, and both had parking lots with nothing but ice and the roads leading to them were nothing but ice. That decision could have been made early this morning.

Finally…

I don’t know about you, but I actually enjoyed the couple of days off this week. My wife and I had to use every bit of imagination to keep our 3 year old entertained. In this fast paced world of career and social media and just an overall sense of being busy, it was a time for all three of us to enjoy some time together. Although I think we do a pretty good job otherwise, it was refreshing that we had two days with just us three. Games, sledding, playing in the snow, movies and video games and even some flash cards made the two days go by quite well, and at the end of each day our three year old was ready to go to bed. Daycare has never been successful at doing that.

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  1. Gordy
    January 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

    We have had significant snow the past three years, at least. It’s hardly a “once a decade” occurrance. The poor planning and delayed execution is unacceptable. There is no accountability, so, poor performance is just accepted.

    Georgia Power learned it’s lesson back when we had the ice storm around the Super Bowl, and it shows. Government should take notice.

    • January 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

      Yes it is true that we have had snow the last three years, but nothing that stays on the roads for more than 24 hours. This was the first year I missed a day of work because of snow/ice. If memory servers me correctly, last years snow came in on a Saturday, and was gone by Sunday afternoon. Even if we had averaged three inches of snow for the next 5 years, the cost of maintaining equipment woould not be justified.

      • Gordy
        January 19, 2011 at 7:56 pm

        I’m sure the lost tax revenue last week would have covered any expense the city devoted to ice/snow, but, we both know that’s not the issue. Poor planning and no accountability are the culprits here.

      • January 19, 2011 at 10:17 pm

        I will not argue that for the most part governments response to a crisis is less than what we would want, but no organization, business or government, can be fully prepared for a situation that happens every once in a while. Georgia Power had vehicles and personell ready in case of a massive power outage for this recent storm. It never came. That cost them money and I would bet my last dollar that they will take that into consideration when the next storm comes. By the way, thanks for reading and I enjoy the back and forth

  2. Dekalbite
    January 17, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Maureen Downey now has Blackwood’s essay about Southwest DeKalb High School as a thread on her Get Schooled blog. What a powerful and evocative writer. So many issues that you discuss here are in his essay “Raze Education “ghetto” in south DeKalb”:
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/01/17/raze-education-ghetto-in-south-dekalb/?cp=1#comment-104746

  3. dekalbforlife
    January 17, 2011 at 5:41 am

    great piece on the challenges facing our schools –

    http://www.ajc.com/opinion/raze-dekalbs-education-ghetto-805564.html

  4. pscexb
    January 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    With respect to the school system, it is a ‘no win’ situation. Major thorough fares were cleaned but there were still streets that were closed in DeKalb on Thursday night. If one child or employee is hurt trying to get to school during those conditions, the school system would never hear the end of it. It is always better to err on the side of caution.

    It looks like the ‘Big 4’ (Atlanta, Cobb, DeKalb, and Gwinnett) make their decisions together. This is probably because their employees are impacted since they live throughout the metro area. Again, depending upon where they live could impact their ability to safely get to work.

  5. Name One
    January 15, 2011 at 12:06 am

    MARTA did a HORRIBLE job at removing ice and snow around many of its train stations. Absolutely inexcusable. They had a great opportunity to prove their worth to the public, as the trains were running when nothing else was.

    but of course, the MARTA administration failed as it always does. The top level administrators should have made sure the stations, parking lots and adjacent sidewalks were shoveled and cleaned immediately. MARTA never ever rises to the occassion.

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