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. Keeeshawrn

    Mayor Reed hates white people!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. i hope it snows like this every year

    this is awesomeness it is amazing fun fun fun no school!!!!!!! yaaaaa

    January 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mark C

    "We did not anticipate that this was going to be one of four biggest snow event in ten years."

    Wow, this despite the fact that the weather service had been screaming that it would be FOR DAYS.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |

    They say it would cost the city $100,000,000 to buy enough snow

    so since where not buying or spending that amount... i guess we'll be use the money for better things; Right?

    January 12, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric


      January 12, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |

      like what ? wht will you think are money will go towards

      January 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      January 12, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Know It All

    Just round up all of the fat, lazy welfre recipients and those ever so present "guides" that prey on folks in Hotlanta give them shovels and let them dig you out. You're already paying them. Make them earn my tax dollars!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. tony

    we get snow every winter and its true Atlantans love it we get a snow day and everyones happy. Usually it lasts only a day although we usually wish it lasted longer. No one here is complaining about the snow! We get to stay home with family and friends the city is beautiful. And as someone born in the north I know that major storms do cripple even the best prepared cities. No one here in Atlanta is angry about that.

    We are legitimately upset that a government agency that is charged with keeping the major roads clear for emergency services shirked thier responsibility and made no plans or efforts. GDOT did not send a plow sander or salter out Sunday night Monday or Tuesday. Individual counties and cities had to negotiate to take over the care of GDOT controled roads to clear them which they did. Cherokee county took control of the roads on Tuesday and cleared them by the evening and Mayor Reed is doing the same as are the Mayors of other cities and the municiple governments of the counties in the metro area. . The anger is at the head of GDOT who did nothing in planning for this event dispite having ample warning and who until tuesday night was still saying publicly that there was no problem and he had everything under control. This dispite the fact that the national weather service clearly stated that the temp will not go above freezing until Friday afternoon at the earliest

    All municiple governments should have plans for emergency services at all times period! to argue as some here are that the government has no responsibility to take care of its citizenry is absurd and irresponsible. GDOT is a department that is routinely criticized for not planning ahead for any of its tasks, from emergency storm planning to the development of a comprehensive transportation plan for the metro area. This is only the last straw that has gotten the city upset.

    Its not the weather its officials who routinely fail to address the appointed tasks of their office. In the words of the head of GDOT last night everything is fine theres nothing wrong.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stephen

    I find it crazy how people from the northern states are quick to comment on how the city is dealing with 5 inches of snow. For instance, Michelle states that she's from Minnesota and that 5 inches is a dusting up there. To a city thats a hit or miss when it comes to snow, 5 inches is alot. Also, another thing that gets me with them is that when its 25 degrees here in Atlanta, they're quick to say I'm from Ohio, New York or whatever else state up north, "25 degrees is nothing to me". When its all said done 25 degrees is cold and 5 inches of snow is alot no matter where you're from. Add that with freezing temperatures as a high for the day and you have disaster, especially when citizens of the city don't know how to drive in the snow. When New York or Chicago has an occasional heat wave and people are dying because of the heat we don't get on news outlets and bash them about they can't deal with heat. Personally, I think that the northerners need to be quiet and only comment if they live here in Atlanta and can see the situation as it unfolds.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      I think y'all need to give each other some space and stop bashing all together. It's counter productive.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      Also, the main problems with icy roads in Atlanta are the huge tree shaded hills. Ever been to Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Minneapolis, philadelphia, etc, etc, etc????

      They are flat as pancakes!

      January 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • KLee

      That and, the snow melts during the day and when the temps drop below freezing during the night, it turns into ICE!!!! You cannot drive on ice, snow tires or not. And if you do, I hope you end up in the ditch like the rest of you stupid Yanks who think you can drive no matter what. If we salt the roads for you sure, but we don't have salting equipment down here and don't NEED it. Get a grip, Michelle. You're just another uppity Yank.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |

    @ B ...... talking about the STRUCTURE of the HWY WAYS system......... talking about how majority of there HIGHWAY are beginning to become ELEVATED.. HOUSTON HWY ARE FAR BEYOND ADVANCED THEN ARE'S ... THEY EVEN HAVE TRAFFIC LIGHTS THAT HAVE SENSOR TO LET IT KNOW WHEN IT SHOULD CHANGE .city is doing things to MAKE changeS..... and B.... Im from HOUSTON TEXAS... so please dont get me started....

    when was the last time you been to texas... I dont know how long you been here in atlanta, but... atlanta will tear up a nice paved road just to go over it again...... dont believe me ask annnnnyyyyy boddddy.....

    January 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      I live in Houston now, and visit Atlanta several times a year. My last visit ended the morning of the ice storm last month.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      Funny, a couple of months ago some organization rated Georgia's higways as the 2nd best in the nation!

      January 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |

      B... im from ALief.... im 33 years old ..... I've been here since 1998... so for me to make my comments is because i speak of experience not because i visited Atlanta for a day or two just to see the CNN building or Centennial Park..... lol

      I know what im talking about......
      Houston haves BELTWAY 8...... we have 285 see what im sayinig (minus the

      HAS ANY BODY SEEN I-10 they have like 10 lanes on each

      common son

      January 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      Gordon7 I can believe it...

      Jesse – Like I said.. I LIVED in Atlanta for 14 years prior to the 9 I have now lived in Houston. The Katy Highway is nothing to be high on.. its a waste of 3 Billion dollars. It wasn't engineered for light rail because they didn't want to spend the extra $200 million to do it then, but rather the extra 2 billion dollars it will cost to do it in the future. Even worse, they removed abandoned rail lines that paralleled the highway for the expansion. Not my impression of cutting edge.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |

      we have rail lines.. houston is a huge city compared to Atlanta...

      HOUSTON probably thought is was best to the HWY first becouse maybe in the near future its going to be and expansion for the SUPER HWY ..... I-10 does connect to I-35 right??????
      now as the city grown new rail ways will be far advanced then what MARTA is..... Correct?

      January 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |

      * to build the HWY first *

      January 12, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marina

    I am not upset by the City's incompetence! Day 3 "working from home" and loving it! ha! – but in all honesty, having lived here for the past 20 + years, we really don't need to have all of the equipment on "standby" as other cities do. We are broke enough as it is! Yes, they were wrong for having very few trucks as the meteorologists screamed it from the rooftops; but this was a very rare occurence for us and hopefully a lesson learned for the city... – now if y'all will excuse me, I need to get back to work – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz 🙂

    January 12, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  10. John

    They act like they were suprised by how much and how fast the snow came down. But the fact is the weather forcasters were predicting the exact scenereo for DAYS. They didn't move on the road clearing until the storm was done. By then everything was packed down and turned to ice. Removing 6" of snow is alot easier than removing 4" of ice. Fact is, they have no clue how to prepair for this situation. They would have better off doing nothing and saving the money.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      No one was surprised.
      No one is acting like they were surprised.
      Other than a very few transplanted northerners no one is complaining.

      We love the snow and the days off!

      January 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    I've lived in Atlanta most of my life (originally from Chicago) and the city is never ready for anything – snow, or otherwise. I was out on the roads today because my pups ran out of food – I had no choice at this point. No salt trucks, no gravel, nothing, and I live in town – but, this wonderful city did have enough resources to ticket all of the cars parked on the side of the highway that were stuck. That my friends, is Atlanta. Morons, through and through.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |


      January 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Damon

      Now, that's a story indeed Brian. I'm also from Chicago but have only lived here since '05. I would agree, fascinating that there was time to worry about parking violations etc in light of the inclement weather. However, that is a revenue generating activity. Not ready/underestimated is a good way to sum it up; regardless of how infrequent this type of weather system blows through Georgia.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tony

    We dont need to buy the equipment there is plenty here. Mayor Reed in two hours managed to organize over 50 vehicles to get the job done. Cherokee county did the same last night in a matter of hours. People the problem is not spending money on unneeded equipment its developing a plan to use the equiptment available! No one has argued we need to buy equipment it just wasn't used! Now local governments are taking over the job after the state government failed.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. janetlaw

    Ya get what ya pay for, guys. In this new era of "austerity" where taxes are a dirty word, more of this will happen more often. Even if it means a penny increase to take care of the streets, no one will dare utter the word "taxes" – its called being taxed for the common good. Obviously, this country no longer cares about the common good – only memememe minemineminemin. The $300 that you just spent on that new I-phone could go for more plows. Depressing.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      @janetlaw: I think the $500 I paid for a 1-year car tag renewal should go towards purchasing new equipment. If I lived in the city of Atlanta (as opposed to one of the outlying counties) it would be close to double that.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Christina G

    People it's just SNOW and definitely not the end of the world. So you can't get out to go buy your precious Starbucks or go have dinner at your fave restaurant...wah wah wah!! Put your big boy/girl panties on and deal with it. Mother Nature has a mind of her own and NO ONE can accurately predict exactly what she is going to do. So it was worse than people anticipated, get over it. You people would be the same ones who would be the first to complain if Mayor Reed over anticipated the snow and spent too much $$$ as well. You just can't please ALL of the people ALL of the time!!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      Who's complaining? I haven't heard one person complain. I do not even know how CNN found anyone to complain.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hugh G. Rection

    Atlantans have to quit being such whining wussies. Snow in Atlanta happens once an epoch, of course the city can't deal with it!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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