Friday, March 31, 2017

Hey Atlanta, how about mass transit now, eh?

Ramblings Post #332
Atlanta is a car city. We have a mass transit system that people have fought tooth and nail against since its inception and now, well, here we are. It's gonna be a long hot summer. And the city is for the most part gonna be divided in half. The days of the floating party, the caravan of fun and the city wide club hopping might just be on hold for a minute. I'm not even going to talk about how the Metro Area Rail and Transportation Authority is going to have to bring it, and bring it hard. Since after all, ....nobody saw this coming.  *snicker*

Thursday evening, a bridge section of I-85, a major artery for the city of Atlanta, collapsed after the structure gave way during what could only be properly described as a conflagration. A big, roaring flame. Apparently just plain old fire can melt steel beams, who knew? Even worse it feel over a section right by another major artery, Piedmont Road. This will only compound the problem, as I'll explain later. This whole process will take months, at minimum four or five, to repair and should shut down not one but two major thoroughfares that connect the Northern suburbs and the rest of Atlanta. We might not be a car city much longer. 

This is the year Marta finally gets properly funded folks! Marta card sales are already up 80% and it's only the first day! Mark your calendar because if a catastrophe that will split the metro region in half won't do it, nothing will. Nothing.

The city of Atlanta is funny. On a map it looks roughly like the Vitruvian Man, with two major highways meeting, running together through the bulk of the city and then splitting again just above the airport. But in reality, only the northern part of the city (above I-20) means anything, as it is the focus of pretty much all development. Coincidentally, most of the black people live below I-20. Not that the two are connected, I'm just saying. A close look at the map however reveals that the city is not exactly a grid, but more a collection of paved cattle trails and footpaths that seemed like a good idea in 1820. As such, the metro area is really more a collection of roads that only incidentally connect to one another in some places, and not at all in others. This quirk of design is why the single collapsing highway section is such a problem.

Photo by Redditor - nico6426
I-85 where it runs through Atlanta is regularly used by, EVERYBODY IN THE METRO AREA. It connects Midtown (with over 35 construction projects underway or announced) with Buckhead - the center of all things trendy in the New South. When it gets the middle of the city and meets 75 we call it the Downtown Connector.  So, kinda important. The other two main roads in the city are Peachtree, not that Peachtree, the other one, no the other other one, the one in the middle, sheesh, and Piedmont Road on the East side of town. Strangely, all three of these intersect in Buckhead. There is no counterpart on the west side of Atlanta, because there really isn't. Because that's why. And now that I-85 has fallen onto Piedmont, there is only Peachtree Road a four lane red-light riddled strip that remains.

Although some will claim it will not be that bad, because although the section of I-85 that fell is actually just north of Piedmont Road, the truth is the fire damage is extensive. Although only the one section fell, the flames touched everything around it, and even money says several other sections of the road surface above and below the area will have to be collapsed and rebuilt just to be on the safe side. More than likely one of the sections directly over Piedmont Road. And even if they don't have to bring that section down on purpose as a safety concern, the fastest way rebuild the section that did fall would involve...blocking Piedmont Road. 

Where I work, going forward referred to as the Ranch, the parking deck was half empty the day after and I had my pick of just off prime spots. The spot where I grab lunch was sparse as well. Because we had no off highway traffic a whole section of my home commute normally a pain was light and easy. But, I live INTOWN, and the highway that goes all the way around the perimeter of the city was bumper to bumper for nearly half its circumference, backing up the designated alternate routes for hours. And that's with the county in a State of Emergency and half the city told to work from home or just take the day off. I shudder to think of what's going to happen on Monday when the flood gates open. I may go to work way early. Or I mean, leave for work. When I make it is anyone's guess. 

It's gonna be a strange summer in Atlanta.

Barkeep, let me get a cold beer, some of that hot fish and some white bread.

What? You thought I was gonna make a bar-b-que joke? For shame....

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