Network engineers use a term, “resilience,” that might be useful in discussing how we respond to this mess. Resilience is the ability of a network to keep on functioning even under less than optimal conditions. In search of resilience, engineers build in redundancies, alternatives and excess capacity, and they identify potential weaknesses and protect against them.
The more reliant you are on a system — the more you depend upon it for survival — the more resilient that system better be. In the world of network engineering, the worst-case scenario is to be 100 percent reliant on a system that has zero percent resilience, and unfortunately, that’s a pretty good description of metro Atlanta’s maxed-out transportation system.
We are a sprawling, hilly metro area with Southern drivers, long commutes, heavy truck traffic, a jumble of cities with no regional governance, a severely stunted mass transit system and a highly stressed road and highway network that is barely adequate under optimal conditions. Given all that, even a little storm has the potential to become a perfect storm.
And I don’t see any of that changing. To the contrary, in the past few years, we’ve cut some 1,600 positions — more than a quarter of its workforce — from the state Department of Transportation, and we still pretend we can compete as a transportation center while our per-capita investment in transportation ranks 49th in the nation.
You don’t have to be a weatherman to see which way the wind blows.