Amid growing criticism, Atlanta increases snow response fleet from 10 to 58 pieces
January 11th, 2011
11:15 PM ET

Amid growing criticism, Atlanta increases snow response fleet from 10 to 58 pieces

The city of Atlanta expanded its fleet of snow response equipment from 10 pieces to 58 Tuesday amid mounting criticism over what many considered the city's failure to adequately prepare and respond to the biggest snow event in at least a decade.

So far, city crews have focused on clearing high priority routes, such as bridges and roads leading to hospitals, and providing emergency and essential services to residents, Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday. Of those 200 miles of high priority roadways, 150 have been cleared, and crews worked on clearing neighborhood and side streets Tuesday night after obtaining more equipment from private contractors.



Many of those streets are maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation, which is partnering with the city to clean the streets tonight.

“The City of Atlanta is working tirelessly to ensure that the roads are clear of ice and snow and I want to thank our residents for staying off the roads to help facilitate this process,” Mayor Reed said. “In one of the worst snow storms in a decade, we have expanded our fleet from 10 to 58 pieces of equipment and have been coordinating seamlessly across city departments and partnering with other jurisdictions to keep our streets safe.”

Reed said the city had attempted to prepare for the snowstorm, which left most major roads, interstates and sides streets covered in ice, paralyzing the city with widespread closures of schools and businesses. Residents are still being encouraged not to drive tomorrow to allow cleanup crews to effectively clear the roads.

He acknowledged, however, that preparations before the storm that grew the fleet from 10 to 22 pieces of equipment was not enough, as officials had hoped it would be based on previous snow events.

"I think what surprised us was the quickness of the accumulation when the snow started falling," he said. "It turns out that double wasn't enough. We did not anticipate that this was going to be one of four biggest snow event in ten years."

Since then, Reed said the city has been working swiftly to acquire more equipment to clear the streets of ice and slush that has accumulated. But the city has had to compete with other municipalities short on resources for this kind of event for the equipment, Reed said.

"Governments from across the region are all in competition for equipment," he said. "We are doing this so the city doesn't have to purchase mass amounts of equipment that we may never use again."

Parts of the city saw up to 5 inches of snow Sunday night, which may not seem like a lot in absolute terms, but is significant in a city that has an average snowfall of 2.5 inches and considers a fleet of 10 salt spreaders and motor blades generally adequate for its purposes.

By comparison, the city of Cleveland, Ohio (where 80 inches of snow fell during the 2008 to 2009 winter season), had a snow removal fleet of 62 trucks and 13 road graders ready for Tuesday's snowfall, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

Reed noted one statistic that he considered the most significant measure of the city's response.

"We are not aware of any death that is snow-related, so as tough as it has been since this snow event began, we have not lost a life that we are aware of as a result of one of the most significant snow events we have ever had."

Read more about the winter storms heading up the Eastern seaboard
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Filed under: Weather • Winter weather
soundoff (444 Responses)
  1. JEROME

    This is a very bad time for the atl yall. Atlanta must pull together and get her back up and running,This is why you all must vote in elections, noot based on party but by the ability of that PERSON to be good a LEADER.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      Need to do away with political parties and listen to the people who you are going to select and if they don't do what they say throw them out.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Katrina

      Stop trying to make this political. Good grief! Mayor Reed is a very capable leader. If people here did what was asked beforehand (i.e. personal preparation) then citizens would be well equipped to ride this storm out and stay off the roads until they were safe to drive on. People are blaming Mayor Reed for their own ill preparation and impassable STATE roads. Get over it.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  2. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    What most people do not understand is that roads are the responsibility of the creator of those roads.

    The Interstate highways are the responsibility of the Federal and State authorities – not the city. If the cities were to be responsible for the major roadways, the responsibility and the money to maintain them would have to be given to them by the state and federal departments that control the money that built them in the first place.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      do we not leave any responsibility on the drivers who make the decision to leave home or drive directly into a snow storm that has been predicted for several days? This is what happens when you depend on government to think for you.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Syracuse

    FOR NYC, I DO FEEL YOUR MISSERY. THE MEGA-CITY HAS NO PLACE TO DUMP THE SNOW AND ICE. IT IS A MISSERY TO EVERYONE THERE. I HOPE MR. BLOOMBERG WILL DO A BETTER JOB IN THE FUTURE.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • MaddieCait

      NO PLACE TO DUMP SNOW AND ICE???? Here in Alaska, when the dump truck gets full of snow, they back it up on the dock and dump it in the water. I though NYC is on an island...

      January 12, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Notamoron

    One freak winter season and oh noes...climate change. If you have repeated abnormal winters then whine.

    Re: selling the equipment
    It seems there is a problem with reading and comprehension as well you fools, it clearly states they are working with private contractors and other municipalities so they don't have to buy equipment. quote-"We are doing this so the city doesn't have to purchase mass amounts of equipment that we may never use again."

    Perhaps read AND THINK before commenting next time, you know use the gray matter stuff between your ears.

    January 12, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • shawndog1

      Mabey they use sand for traction until they can get mass amounts of salt .

      January 12, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. southerner at heart

    Why would Atlanta be prepared for such record weather? It's not like this happens every winter, no southern city is prepared for this type of snow and ice. If they had the equipment on hand every winter, the same people would be complaining about the waste of taxpayer dollars!

    January 12, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  6. Southerner

    I remember when i was a young whipper-snapper. I spent a month in upstate New York in the summer. It was the hottest July they ever had. All the Yankees were sunburned and blistered. They didn't know what to do. Most of them just stood outside and cursed at the sun. It was so funny. I learned a lot of new words. Every cloud has a silver lining.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • doureallycare2

      ROFL.. You sound like your from them there mountains southern boy....:) sorry to tell you.... most of us sunburned Yankees luv the sun and I personally love it if its in the 90's however I can also ware my shorts if its 60... what about you....? it really is ridiculous for people in different parts of the country to try and declare who is "tougher" different places have different conditions and they don’t always have the proper materials to handle it with... I know some Oswego transplanted to Atlanta... You cant tell me they don’t know how to handle the snow? well guess what...they wouldn’t dare drive out on roads that are sheets of ice and don’t have salt and where proper snow removal has not been done. Lets give each other a break.......

      January 12, 2011 at 9:28 am | Report abuse |
    • ATL Transplant

      doureallycare2, I think that comment was meant as a joke....

      January 12, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • bitterjack

      doureallycare2 – he was trying to illustrate that when people are placed in unfamiliar situations, they will not necessarily respond the same way as someone who deals with the situation routinely.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Ol' Dragon

      I'm a transplanted Yankee myself, but now I've been down here a few decades I don't have the antifreeze in my veins I used to have. I wonder if there is some environment-triggered biological explanation for the cold-tolerance of those up north? It would be nice to be able to take a pill or get a shot and feel comfortable in shorts and T shirts when it's 55 degrees again.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jorge washinsen

    It is refreshing to see a city use some common sense.The streets did not cause the traffic problem it was the ones who ventured out without having a vehicle that could handle the snow and who drive too fast for road conditions.As for out of towners getting stranded there is no excuse to be in the middle of a snow storm with the information that is at hand now. Give it a day or two and old sol will clear up the problem especially that far South. Here in my part of the country we had no problems getting around until the city found out about salt trucks. Now it refreezes and will take twice as long to get better and get twice as slick. Besides some morning you will get up and you will find a pile of rust where you left your steed.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  8. notamoron...much

    Insulting people is a surfire way tobhave people discount anything you say...moron!

    January 12, 2011 at 9:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. notamoron...much

    Read: to have...et al.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  10. banasy

    Why does EVERY thread have to resort to insults and name-calling? Jeez, people, show some restraint!

    January 12, 2011 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joan Kelly

    For many years I lived on Easter LI. We did not have many snow plows but everyone I knew who owned a pickup truck also owned a plow attachment. When it snowed they made extra money plowing. No pickup trucks in Georgia?

    January 12, 2011 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
    • bitterjack

      Umm, no snow plows??? Its Georgia. It does not snow there. This was a freak storm. the last time this happened was ~8 years ago. Would you spend a couple of thousand of dollars to use something once every 8 years?

      January 12, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. jorge washinsen

    I have never been through Atlanta when there was not a traffic jam.What is so new about this?Just part of living.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. Atlantan

    As an Atlanta Tax payer, I would rather they stop closing Fire stations, and add more police then spend money on more plows and salt trucks for the 3 days of the year that we need it.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:25 am | Report abuse |
    • jorge washinsen

      I am not far North of you but I agree 100 percent with your post. In my case,when you have many years on your frame, some things get clearer even though you might not know where you left your glasses.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Davey

      The answer isn't just money. A small amount of common sense is needed. I took a spade and made 2x100ft clear tracks on my road yesterday (took less than 30 mins) and this morning they are the only bits clear of ice. A few buckets to attach to a couple of SUV's in each subdivision (will last 20 years) to sweep some of the side streets are cheap. Salt mounds on major hills and junctions so people can move when stuck. Everyone in ATL is lazy and sits back to wait for Government. We are in tough times, lets all chip in here too. BUT the ICE of 285 / 85 is a joke. Main freeways MUST be clear of ice. The mayor is proud of no deaths but that's more because no one can get out!!

      January 12, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Randy

      STFU Davey.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. jorge washinsen

    Our water supplies are polluted enough now without tons and tons of salt and who knows what else is dumped into the mixture.It is also destroying our bridges.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wes

    It is wednesday morning and roads are still horrible in and around Atlanta. Terrible job by city officials they should be ashamed of themselves and resign immediately.

    January 12, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Wes,

      City officials only have responsibility for city roads – Peachtree isn't a city road it is a state road. It is all these uncoordinated efforts and communication that cause the breakdown. AND how exactly are you supposed to plow the highways with all these tractor trailers jack-knifed?

      However the major issue is 8 hours of freezing rain – no matter how much salt/sand/gravel or plowing is done if the freezing rain keeps coming it will cover it all up again. People keep acting like the storm was all over when the snow finished Monday morning! It was still freezing rain on Tuesday morning in my neighborhood so it has only been about 24 hours.
      I grew up in Boston area and yes they are better prepared 4000+ plows in city, and every town has their own plows. My town of 10,000 had 10 plows and tons of private contractors to get the driveways etc. As a taxpayer I'm okay with working from home for a few days instead of building up a massive infrastructure for a usual few inches a year.

      After all, this is not Chicago, Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York or Boston. We have a ton of pick up trucks but what in the world would anyone buy the plow for??? Any usual year it just melts by the afternoon or next day.

      January 12, 2011 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
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