by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) is deflecting blame for traffic gridlock on highways in his city that were caused by a rare Southeast snowstorm this week, arguing that interstates are the responsibility of state officials.
During an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show, Reed said national newscasters were inaccurately using footage of highways that either run through Atlanta or are located in suburban jurisdictions that are not the responsibility of his city’s government.
“In the city of Atlanta, we started our snow treatment at 9 a.m., after getting our weathercast between 4 and 5,” the Atlanta mayor said. “And almost every photo that you just showed is not in the city of Atlanta. In fact, within 24 hours the roads in the city of Atlanta were more than 80 percent passable. So I just reviewed your report, and it focused almost exclusively on our city’s highways, which the city does not have jurisdiction for, and most of those simply were not in the city of Atlanta.”
Atlanta received about two inches of snow during the Tuesday storm, but reports quickly emerged of drivers being stuck on highways in the city’s metropolitan area for hours amid icy road conditions.
Reed said he acknowledged the city could have handled the storm better, but he wanted to be clear about where the lines of responsibility should be drawn.
“We made an error in the way that we released our citizens,” he said. “So the state made a judgment to release state employees, private businesses made their judgment, and I made the call, and APS made the call.”
Reed was adamant the city government was doing its part to relieve the snow-induced gridlock that has become a national story.
“If the cameras had focused on the city limits, they would have seen that 80 percent of our streets were passable,” he said. “And if you were in Atlanta right now, you would see that the streets in the city of Atlanta are clear. We’ve had zero fatalities, we’ve handled more than 797 accidents, and we reunited all of the children in the city of Atlanta with their families. And the photos you’re showing right now aren’t even photos of the city of Atlanta.”