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. blackbeered

    A country of whiners, everywhere you turn.

    Just shut up and do your job better than a Chinese worker would.

    You gripe about nature; then you'll gripe about wasting millions of taxpayer money to have people and equipment sitting idle 99% of the time.

    Suck it in and grow up ... or check out.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. tony

    Christina it is just snow and we can just stay home as most of us are. But to the people whose homes burned last night because the fire trucks couldnt get there in time to save it your advice is cold fodder. To the people who had to wait longer than was safe for the ems or abulance to get to them because the roads were impassible I guess you say suck it up. No we cannot predict exactly what will come but that is not an excuse for not preparing civil societies have been planning for potential emergencies and problems since the dawn of humanity. You are right people would complain if too much money was spent but that in itself is a problem in the US we put money as a value system above all other value systems. You cann't use money as an excuse to be irresponsible, calous and inconsiderate.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gordon7

    Great name.... but rest assured no Atlantans are complaining....only transplants here from other places. Atlantans love the snow and the days off!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • lara

      People who work in hospitals do not enjoy the snow. Thanks for your uninformed opinion, and yes I do work at a medical facility. Sorry, when people's lives are on the line we don't have the luxury of taking the day off.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • fed 123

      Yeah, I'm sure they just love the ice and snow. Everyone stays home. By the way................If everyone stays home.......who is doing the plowing, sanding and salting? ET and friends?

      January 12, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      @fed...ummm no one is. Isn't that the point of CNN's story?

      January 12, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. north and south

    Having lived in Wisconsin, Buffalo, DC, and now Atlanta, I can say this weather is crazy. The five inches of snow was not a problem. It was the melting during the day followed by freezing at night that turned the whole area into a giant skating rink. Shoveling is helpful, but only to a point. Each morning it is iced over and we wait until 1:00 for the thaw. I've been teleworking each day, and the kids are enjoying the snow. We've also been cooking, and enjoying family game time.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    As a life long resident of 43 years of this great city, I hate to hear all the complaints. I think my city faired quite well and I am happy with the response. I took heed on Thursday and bought food and supplies to get me through 5 days as I here for the last timne this happened. I am also sick and tired of hearing everyone from the north not understanding why we don't and can't drive in this weather. On normal year we have 1 day like this and every 10-15 years we have what happened here this week. I would be more upset with wasting money on machines that we would never use.

    Now for my Northern all are full of s**t when you say this is nothing...the northern states get bogged down just as much as we do when the unexpected happens. 5 inches is nothing for you but 16-25" is a major pain. I am sure the people in Canada are laughing at you. I am sure that 90% of the wrecks were you northerns trying to show everyone you can drive, I say this because us southerns are smart enough to stay safe and warm, and spend this time with our loved ones.

    Can't wait to here about all the births about 9 months from now.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • cdasue

      Oh Canada...let's just say I live up here in the Great White North in a large metropolitan city and our cities snow clearing budget for 2010 was all gone before the end of 2010. Just because you live in a city where snow happens every year, doesn't mean you are prepared. Ice is ice and if the roads were covered with that up here, you wouldn't see us driving in it either. Sure snow tires help...with snow...but you get a layer of ice and pfft...your vehicle is like a hockey puck going across a rink.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Lori

    A special gift from Vince Lombardi !!!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Leener

    Snow days are Mother Nature's way of making us slow down and enjoy what nature has to offer. I live in Bucks County, PA and when it snows all the neighbors get out and help shovel or snow blow each other out. It becomes a social event. If you can't shovel, go out and play with the kids. Snow days = hot chocolate with whipped cream, sledding, a good book, a good game of monopoly, baking cookies, a snowball fight... the possibilities are endless. Slow down and enjoy it, because tomorrow the roads will be clear and its back to the grind!

    January 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Every day above ground is a good day, so be thankful you live to see snow today for tomorrow is not promised. In other words, stop complaining.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MoodyMoody

    North and south, I think you nailed it on the head! When Northerners pooh-pooh Southern snow as "only 5 inches, that's a dusting," they don't realize that the bigger problem is the ice. You can plow, shovel, and blow snow; ice you have to salt, sand, and chop, which are much more difficult and less effective. With chains or snow tires you can drive on snow. You can't drive safely or easily on ice regardless of the equipment.

    Again, as noted, Southern cities don't have the big snowplow fleets that Northern cities do, because most years, we don't need them. In my city in NC, we've already had more snow this season than we had all last year. I promise I won't make fun of your 80 degree heat wave this summer, even though that's cool summer weather here. Many of you don't have air conditioners. Same theory.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      ... and Mr. MoodyMoody, THAT is exactly why you should stay home on those days and if you do ABSOLUTELY need to go out (which everyone does, right) just slow down, you'd be amazed at how well a good pair of A/S tires will perform.

      P.S. Nobody uses "snow chains"

      January 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Don_J

    People will always find problems and blame in everything, no matter how good or bad a job was done. I live in Minnesota and people here complain at how snow removal is done too... just last month we had a storm that dumped over 20+ inches of snow in a day and a half... schools did shut down and there STILL snow piles at least 12" feet high in some places and people are still crying about whose streets were plowed first. Heck, just Sunday night, Monday morning this week we got about 3 -4 inches and the snow plows were late getting out, On my way to work I had to follow 4 huge snow plows for about 10 miles on I35W, speed was about 15 -20 MPH... it was clear to me and other that they had not been plowing over night, but no since in whining about it...besides, Atlanta, there is a bright side for you... the south has been in a drought for sometime now and snow does melt into water.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Peaches

    This has nothing to do with Southerners, Yankees or even red-necks. It has to do with GDOT just simply not being prepared. It is true that we don't have storms like this all that often, but if GDOT would stock up on things like SALT (and not that stupid mixture of salt, sand and gravel) SALT would have eliminated all of this mess we are in. Multiple saltings of all the roads = problem solved.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob Camp

      And where do you magically get tons of salt on short notice? You need at least 200 pounds of salt per lane per mile of road.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Don_J

      ... come on Bob, I'm surprised at you... everybody knows that everything that's ever need is stored up somebodies a$$ and all you need to do is reach up there and pull it out when you need it.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Norman

    The City of Atlanta did a fine job clearing streets. Much better than I expected. I stayed off the state maintained roads sticking with roads I knew to be maintained by the city instead, and had no problem getting around Tuesday and Wednesday. Indeed, my commute to work was much easier given the fact that citizens of outlying jurisdictions could not clog up our city streets. You need to get the story straight. The State of Georgia government appears to be the one having a difficult time clearing state roadways and interstate highways.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • pwayne

      Norman works for the city.....obviously.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pwayne

    With weather patterns changing, Atlanta, you need to get up to speed......In Chicago your weather would have been a non event. 58 pieces is a drop in the bucket.

    January 12, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. skinsnfishn

    Why not just take a couple of days off. It will be 50-60 again soon and problem solved. Why spend millions on snow removal for a storm every 10 years.

    January 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. suzanne

    well duh...of course Cleveland has more snow equipment...they get a lot more snow (80 inches during 2008-2009 season).

    January 12, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
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