Does ATL's top cop think we’re only one incident away from total gridlock? Yup.

With the I-85 path to north metro Atlanta shut down for weeks to come, one thing has become perfectly clear. Your ability to get where you need to go now hangs by a hair. Consider:

-- In today’s wee hours, at 3 a.m., a tractor-trailer toting hundreds of gallons of benzoyl chloride and 50 gallons of diesel fuel overturned in a collision with an SUV on the Downtown Connector. Northbound and southbound traffic was halted.

-- At just about noon today, all lanes on I-20 West in DeKalb County were shut down when the interstate buckled. And it hasn’t even gotten hot yet.

-- This is on top of last Tuesday’s toppled tanker that (again at about 3 a.m.) spilled 7,500 of fuel on I-285 in Clayton County, shutting down all lanes for hours.

Which brings us to last Friday’s interview with Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields by Denis O’Hayer of WABE (90.1FM). He’s posted it online.

At the 3:50 mark on the longer version, O’Hayer poses the question that becomes more relevant with each passing day:

“How worried are you that we’re just one additional accident away from complete gridlock?”

Replie the police chief:

“It’s a very real concern. When the I-285 trucker incident occurred, it was not good, but it was as good as it could be, in light of the fact that it was on the south side of the city….

“I’m concerned not just about the accident, but just when it rains. Because our drivers never slow down....We're one accident away from it really being a nightmare.

“It’s avoidable, though. That’s one of those things that – you have to slow down.”

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About the Author

Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway
Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.