Mayor Kasim Reed & City Leaders Discuss Upcoming Weekend Events - April 16-18, 2010
At a press conference today, Mayor Kasim Reed, Interim Police Chief George Turner, Interim Fire Chief Joel G. Baker, MARTA COO and Deputy General Manager Dwight A. Ferrell, City Council Members, festival organizers and other city leaders discussed traffic and public safety plans for the weekend of April 16-18th.
Numerous festivals are planned for the upcoming weekend, including the 74th Annual Dogwood Festival, the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival at the Landmark Midtown Art Cinema, and the Sweetwater 420 Fest in Candler Park. In addition, the 2010 First Robotics Conference and Championship will be occurring at the Georgia World Conference Center, Georgia Dome and Centennial Olympic Park, where approximately 20,000 of some of the nation’s brightest and most talented high school students will compete and perhaps launch careers as robotics engineers.
Other events include several 5K and 10K walk/runs, a stair climb at the 191 Peachtree Tower to benefit the American Lung Association, Braves games at Turner Fields, and the likely start of the NBA playoffs with the Hawks playing at Phillips Arena.
At the press conference, Mayor Reed encouraged City residents and visitors to come out and enjoy the events, but said there would be an increase in traffic in downtown and near the major festivals areas --- Piedmont Park and Candler Park. He encouraged residents to plan their travels in advance. For those Atlantans who are going to a festival or event, they should consider assessing their parking options in advance, carpooling or leaving their car at home and taking MARTA. For more information on train and bus times, visit http://www.itsmarta.com or call 404-848-5000 for information on possible route changes to buses.
“Atlanta prides itself in holding wonderful events for our residents and visitors to enjoy and certainly this weekend is no different. I am delighted that our city is hosting these fantastic and dynamic events and I would like to remind everyone that with large-scale events comes additional traffic. I encourage people to use MARTA and carpool wherever possible. Have a safe and enjoyable weekend,” said Mayor Kasim Reed.
Heavy traffic and large crowds are expected in multiple areas of Atlanta including:
• All areas surrounding Piedmont Park
• Around Lenox Mall in Buckhead
• Near Greenbriar Mall in Southwest Atlanta
• Peachtree Street at Piedmont Road
• Atlanta University Center
• Atlanta Underground, and
• Other Atlanta parks e.g., Washington, Maddox, and Perkerson.
The Mayor also informed residents and visitors that the Office of Constituent Services will be available to assist with non-emergency related issues this weekend and that office can be reached by calling 404-330-6023. The City also will have a Mobile Command Unit for on-site support at various locations, an initiative which is the first of its kind.
Additionally, Mayor Reed announced that after working collaboratively with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), they have cancelled their plans to repave parts of the downtown interstate connector where I-75 and I-85 merge. Previously, GDOT had informed the City that all lanes would have been closed which would have heavily increased and clogged in-town neighborhoods and streets with additional traffic.
Mayor Reed addressed concerns about the return of Freaknic, by saying “The City of Atlanta has procedures in place for the permitting of large gathering or outdoor festivals. Applicants must work through our Special Events office to ensure they have met the requirements for sanitation, traffic flow and public safety to be granted a permit. The City has not issued any permits for Freaknic or a freaknic-type gathering for this weekend. Interim Police Chief Baker and the Atlanta Police Department have been monitoring the situation and we are prepared for the unexpected.”
The Atlanta Police Department will have all resources available for the upcoming events. APD has cancelled all off days and will have all officers working 12 hour shifts so they can be prepared to handle traffic issues and respond quickly and effectively to any public safety issues that may arise.
Interim Police Chief Turner said, “APD anticipates large crowds at our major venues, clubs, and city parks. The Police Department and Fire Department will monitor and respond to these locations as necessary. We urge all citizens and visitors to be mindful of their surroundings and take a common sense approach as it relates to parking and ask them to partner with us in our efforts to reduce crime. The Department will utilize our Motorcycle Unit, Air Unit, Mounted Patrol Unit, and Traffic Response Teams to keep traffic moving and minimize the amount of disruption that occurs on the roadways.”
At the press conference, Turner also announced that APD will be operating the Joint Operations Center (JOC) effective 7 a.m. Friday thru 7 a.m. Monday morning. The JOC will be staffed by personnel from the Atlanta Police Department in conjunction with multiple other agencies to facilitate the sharing of information. Residents of Atlanta can check traffic updates at www.atlantapd.org.
Interim Fire and Rescue Chief Baker was on hand to add that the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department will send out Special Events EMS Bike Teams, which consist of Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics. This will enable them to be more visible and more accessible to visitors at the various onsite locations.
The purpose of the Joint Operations Center is to capture real-time data and allocate resources without delay, based on the information that is received. Commanders in the field will report in by phone to the JOC on activity that they are encountering; this allows upper management to shift resources.
For more information about this and services of the City of Atlanta, visit website www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26