by Keith Laing, The Hill Newspaper
A majority of voters in Atlanta are blaming both city and state elected leaders for widespread traffic jams that resulted after a rare Southern snowstorm, according to a new poll released on Friday.
Atlanta highways were gridlocked for several days this week, despite the city only receiving approximately two inches of snow.
Officials have blamed the traffic on businesses and schools all sending people home as the snow began to fall, which they say made it difficult to treat the roads for ice.
Cable television pundits have debated whether blame for the snowstorm traffic should be placed on Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) or some combination after reports emerged of drivers being stuck on Atlanta highways overnight.
Atlanta polling firm The Hicks Evaluation Group found that 50 percent of voters in the Atlanta metro area blamed “everyone” for the snow-related traffic.
The poll found 15 percent of Atlanta voters placed blame mostly on Deal, who faces an election challenge this year from the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, Georgia state Sen. Jason Carter (D).
Reed, who won a second term last year and is seen as a rising Democratic star, is being blamed by 3.5 percent of metro Atlanta, according to the poll.
He came under fire in a series of contentious national interviews in which he passed blame for the condition of highways that run through Atlanta.
“In the city of Atlanta, we started our snow treatment at 9 a.m., after getting our weathercast between 4 and 5,” Reed said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” on Thursday. “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.”
For his part, Deal has apologized for misjudging the severity after being criticized for questioning the accuracy of pre-storm weather forecasts in the initial days of the gridlock.
“I’m not going to look for a scapegoat,” Deal said in a press conference on Thursday. “I’m the governor. The buck stops with me. I accept the responsibility for it. But I also accept the responsibility of being able to make corrective actions as they come in the future. And that’s what the public can expect from our office.”
The full Atlanta snowstorm poll can be read here.