As if Atlanta traffic wasn’t bad enough, now Alabama’s making fun of us

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You know things are bad when Alabama's laughing at you. Image: Columbia Pictures ("Crazy in Alabama")

Like the I-85 collapse, I-75 shutdown and I-20 buckling Atlanta has suffered lately weren’t bad enough, here’s a real frying pan to the face.

Alabama is making fun of us.

That’s right: Alabama, where just last week the governor literally went from running the state to being in state custody on the same day, where a Crimson Tide fan got so mad about Auburn’s victory in the 2010 Iron Bowl that he poisoned the beautiful oaks at Toomer’s Corner, and where (no kidding) it’s illegal to wear a fake mustache to church to make people laugh, is chuckling over the pitiful state of our roads.

Not that we didn’t have it coming. A chunk of 85 is gone after a fire – allegedly started by a homeless man – ignited a huge pile of materials underneath a heavily traveled roadway.  Our state DOT thought that was a good place to store stuff.

“It does not ignite,” Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell R. McMurry said during a news conference shortly after the disaster. “It is a high-density plastic that is not combustible.”

Um. It kind of is.



 

The latest traffic snag was the one most likely to impact our neighbors to the west, since 20 goes to Alabama, so maybe that’s what prompted this withering observation: “Bless Atlanta’s heart.”

Lawd! That’s what you say when someone brings store-bought potato salad to Sunday dinner. Or makes change in the offering plate. Or fails to pull over to let a funeral procession pass.

It’s one thing when the Yankees at the New York Times cluck over our permanent gridlock  or when those hipster swells at Saturday Night Live mock our sorry ice-storm response.

But dang, now we’re getting it from our cousins next door. Look how AL.com, the leading media outlet in Alabama, summed it up:

Translation, for those of you who haven’t been slain into silence with these damning words, this is about like saying Y’all don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain, do you?

I mean, it’s not like metro Atlanta has failed to embrace regional transit as every developer and his sister slap together a new mixed-use development or anything. Or like our major league baseball team just moved to a new suburban location basically devoid of public transit options. Or anything.

But man, look at ’em piling on over there. The post has been shared nearly 5,000 times and comments go like this: “I’d go 500 miles around the ATL to keep from driving on their raggedy a– roads!” (Jean Murphy); “Why don’t they inject their roads with the same stuff they’re injecting butts with over there in the ATL?” (Jerry Gholston); and “They can’t get it together! (Megan Werner)”

One commenter, Kimberly Bell, posted that the I-20 mess “Looks like the devil is trying to escape from hell.” Ms. Kimberly actually makes a good point there and we hope some of y’all will keep us in your prayers instead of just hooting at our woes.

After all, 75 got cleaned up in a hurry, the 20 fix was a near miracle and MARTA ridership is up as motorists seek alternatives. Here’s hoping  the 85 repairs continue apace.

And here’s hoping a bunch of us will be able to run down to the Gulf Coast for one of Alabama’s most cherished traditions: The annual Flora-Bama Mullet Tosscoming up April 28-30. That’s where people hurl a mullet as far as they can over the state line from Perdido Key, Fla. to Orange Beach, Ala.

The weekend, featuring a Mullet Man Triathlon, Miss Mullet Toss pageant and such, raises money for worthy charities and is always a fun family event. So, Alabama, we won’t sniff about how Georgia has The Masters, golf’s swankest affair, and y’all got people throwing dead fish at you.

We’ll just say bless your hearts.