State, city and federal courts in Atlanta closed Monday “out of an abundance of caution” over a freezing rain forecast,” clearing the path to “the Benz” for the national college football championship game traffic, which will include President Donald Trump.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Court in Atlanta announced it would be closed Monday because of a winter advisory posted Sunday.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced Sunday that City of Atlanta government offices, including the Atlanta Municipal Court, would be closed on Monday. The mayor did specify that essential employees would remain or report to work.
Likewise, Gov. Nathan Deal expanded the early closings for courts and other downtown state offices to a full day off once the National Weather Service forecast freezing rain for Monday morning.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are closing non-essential agencies to ensure our employees’ safety as well as ensure the Georgia Department of Transportation’s ability to maintain and treat our roads,” Deal said in a news release. “This closure will run from Columbus across to Augusta and northward.”
The governor learned in his first term what can happen when ice hits Atlanta roads during rush hour. That snow jam stranded commuters in their cars for hours, some overnight. Deal has been even more cautious about winter weather forecasts since.
Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice P. Harris Hines followed the governor’s lead and closed the high court for Monday, canceling planned oral arguments.
The exception to the day off is the Georgia General Assembly.
“The Capitol will remain open, however, so that the Legislature may gavel into the 2018 session as constitutionally required,” the governor said.
Fortunately for lawmakers, football fans and the presidential motorcade, the feared freezing rain held off Monday morning. The temperature hovered above freezing. But the closings left the city freer to deal with the biggest conflict of the day—the University of Georgia Bulldogs v. the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.