Amid Shutdown, Atlanta Preps For Super Bowl — And 'Mass Exodus Monday' | KERA News

Amid Shutdown, Atlanta Preps For Super Bowl — And 'Mass Exodus Monday'

Jan 23, 2019
Originally published on January 24, 2019 6:59 am

One city that is particularly worried about the partial government shutdown? Atlanta, which is set to host Super Bowl LIII on Feb. 3. The city’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport — the world’s busiest — potentially faces a stiff logistical test coming while the government is not fully open.

Transportation Security Administration employees are among the federal workers being hard-hit by the stalemate over border security. The TSA has sent additional screeners to support Hartsfield-Jackson’s operations, according to Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who says her concerns are focused less on people arriving and more on them departing.

“We are most concerned in Atlanta, as we prepare for the Super Bowl, for what we call ‘mass exodus Monday,’ and that’s when we expect a record number of passengers — upwards of 120,000 people — to go through our airport,” Bottoms (@KeishaBottoms) tells Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson. “This could be very problematic if the shutdown is not over by then.”

Whether the shutdown is over or not, the city is encouraging people departing after the Super Bowl should plan to get to the airport early.

Bottoms says Atlanta is working to offer financial support to local TSA employees, who haven’t been paid since the shutdown began on Dec. 22.

“We’re working — along with our credit union who supports the city of Atlanta, for our city of Atlanta employees and also many of our corporate partners — to create some type of fund that will allow us to extend the opportunity for loans to our TSA workers,” Bottoms says. “We’re in uncharted territory, as I’ve said before, so we’re having to come up with a plan in real time as people are experiencing the shutdown.”

The shutdown’s impacts are also being widely felt across the city, Bottoms says, adding that recent comments she heard from the head of a local feed-the-hungry organization were particularly troubling.

“What she shared is that she is increasingly concerned on the ground, because she’s seeing very high numbers of federal employees who are coming in for support,” Bottoms says. “She likened it to what she saw after [Hurricane] Katrina, when we had a number of people from New Orleans coming into the city for support. So that’s of grave concern.”

Bottoms says she hopes politicians in Washington, D.C., come to the table to iron out a solution to the shutdown.

“Leaders have to lead, and we can’t be stopped by one position from the president that’s not allowing us to have a reasonable conversation on what this compromise looks like,” she says.

Ashley Bailey produced this interview and edited it for broadcast with Kathleen McKenna. Jack Mitchell adapted it for the web.

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