(Not) Handling the Snow in the South

As previously reported on our blog, the South got hit pretty hard with snow and ice over the past few days causing major travel delays, traffic chaos, office closings, and of course snow days for school kids.

As most cities are slowly getting back to normal, one major American city is not… Atlanta. The city where the snow is handled by consciously not handling it, as reported this morning on CNN’s American Morning.

When Atlanta saw the major storm heading its way, the mayor doubled the number of snowplows and dump trucks for the city, going from 10 to 20. There is 1,600 miles of roads in Atlanta. The city is up to 58 trucks on the road right now.

Officials knew Atlanta was not prepared for the storm. In fact, over the years the city made a conscious decision not to be ready. Atlanta has relied on two basic facts: Southern snowstorms are rare and the best way to get rid of the snow is to let it melt. That logic fails about once a decade.

This time, the city remained shut down for days as roads became impassable. In fact, the roads are still bad.

Some may think such a conscious decision to let a snow storm take its course is illogical. Here is why it is not, according to Tom Cunnigham, the vice president and associate director of research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and Jill Goldberg, the deputy press secretary of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Cunningham stated because a convention that was to take place in Atlanta these days might have been snowed out doesn’t mean the city lost money. Most passengers stuck in the city would have only passed through but thanks to the snow spent money on hotels and ate at area restaurants. With regard to all the businesses who couldn’t work because their employees couldn’t get in, Cunningham said that there is certainly some lost income associated with hourly workers not being able to get in and get paid. A lot of that aggregate output is made up over the course of the year though.

Upon being asked why the city of Atlanta does not just buy the equipment to handle the snow, Goldberg replied that a snowplow is $250,000. The city would need so many of them it would be $100 million or more in order to truly cover all of the interstates.

Atlanta’s mayor, Kasim Reed, agrees. It is not worth the huge investment to get the equipment for an event that does not happen that often, he said.

So, what it all boils down to (again) is money…

Best regards
und viele Grüße aus Charlotte
Reinhard von Hennigs