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. Polonium101

    Mayor Reed refers to this week's weather as "one of four biggest snow event(s) in ten years." So the readers who refer to this as a "once every ten year event" really aren't accurate. Four in ten is a "once every two and a half years" event. Furthermore, climate change may very well bring more, not less, snow to many areas because it increases moisture in the atmosphere without, however, making it too warm ot snow. So it could be that weather like this will become much more common. Remember, Atlanta just had it's first Christmas snow since 1882 last month. Finally, what exactly IS the cost of snow removal equipment? The amount lost revenues for the city's businesses over the past three days has got to be a big number. Add to that the cost (mostly to insurance companies) of repairing the numerous accidents, etc. In any case, we need to figure out a better response thatn we got this time.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John

    WE WANT LESS GOVERNMENT AND LOWER TAXES (until the weather changes and I can't figure out how to handle it when the tires on my BMW spin) /sarcasm

    January 12, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Avon Barksdale

    I'm another person from CHICAGO who moved to Atlanta in 2008. I have never seen people react so crazy to Snow and Ice! HEY CHICAGO! How would u feel if the city completely shut down the CTA. No trains, no bus no Michigan Ave. Thats what were dealing with because of these idiots! No MARTA TRAIN or BUS SERVIS, NO PEACHTREE STREET! People were Fighting in PUBLIX GROCERY STORE FOR FOOD Yesterday! THIS CITY IS PATHETIC!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      I'm with you AVON BARKSDALE! It's ridiculous. The rest of the US just does not understand the STUPIDNESS of the situation! It's not that hard to do. If each MAJOR county had a fleet of 50 trucks (rented owned whatever!) Training the drivers on how to treat these roads AND let's not forget - BUY SOME **** SALT! We could have been back to work TODAY, maybe even Tuesday. I'm from -17 degress territory, it CAN BE DONE!

      January 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. OMG

    Uhhhh, ... No. The city didn't do a good job at anything. If the "city" would have done a good job. Every single city, county, state and federal office (located downtown), would not have been closed for 3 days. MARTA was closed. CCT was closed. I need you to do some geography people, Mayor and Govenor. Atlanta is a small area (mile wise) in comparison to the outer areas that are effected and where many major corporations are located and where many people WORK. I.e. COBB COUNTY, GWINNETT, DEKALB, NORTH FULTON, CLAYTON, and many more. All of I285, all of I75/I85, all of I20, Highway 78, Highway 85, Highway 92 + major roads leading to these highways E/W Connector (I'm sure I'm missing several). PLUS major streets (Cobb Pkwy, Peachtree Rd, Druid Hills, Cascade Rd, All exits off GA400, Roswell Rd, I575) WHY DO YOU HAVE 10 SALT TRUCKS? Really? Oooh, you doubled it? That was nice. The GA DOT needs to own or lease a FLEET of SALT TRUCKS. Can ya maybe lease them from NOV-FEB to keep costs down? Can ya maybe solicit REAL DRIVERS from states that deal with the SAME ICE 6 months out of the year. Saaaay, MICHIGAN, MINNESOTA, NY, OHIO?? Employ them seasonally? Can we as Georgians add the word SALT to our vocabulary? Apartment complexes and businesses must LOVE a liability case because NO ONE salts their walk ways and driveways. IT'S HILARIOUS to me! The cost of THIS idea can't exceed the money that ATLANTA and all the other cities lost within the last 3 days. MILLIONS lost. Not just money but property and possibly even lives. GLOBAL WARMING people. This will not be a once in 10 year event. Get it together!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Trina

    I grew up in upstate NY and am now in Atlanta. A "northerner" made a comment about 5 inches of snow being nothing. True, it's nothing in an area that has the equipment to clear the roads, salt the roads, etc. However, it wasn't just a snow storm this week, it was an ice storm as well. Atlanta and the surrounding suburbs simply do not have the equipment and therefore it is completely necessary that almost an entire city be shut down. I work in the heart of midtown Atlanta and the roads are pretty much a MESS. Thing is, Atlanta as a city probably doesn't want to invest in trucks totaling millions when they only have a "snow storm" of this magnitude every 5 to 6 years. I used to laugh at the thought of an entire city becoming a ghost town over several inches of snow. I grew up adjacent to Lake Ontario and we had lake effect snow ALL THE TIME – 2 and 3 feet at times. Simple difference is, we had the means to clear the roads very quickly and we therefore were able to get around without much hassle. I just don't understand the reason people post nasty comments about the south and start with "we in the north..." it drives me bonkers and I am from the north! Who cares people! We're all in this together! Hicks, yankees, etc. Do we really have to be so nasty all of the time!!?

    January 12, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • OMG

      Thank you Trina! My northerner friends just don't get it! And obviously, my southerner government and state officials just don't get it either.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. percysmama

    To all of you complaining about the city of Atlanta not buying snow removal trucks I have a question. Do you buy waterproof mittens, snow pants, and snow boots for your kids every year in case it snows? Oh I thought not that would be a waste of money. Well tax payer money is yours too.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Polonium101

      Taxes – boo! Why don't we just end them altogether? The we would have no roads to clear. No airports or other pesky infrastucture to worry about. That way, everyone could stay home 365 days a year - until the economy shuts down altogether and we all starve to death.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Avon Barksdale

    Also, I love Atlanta and the people here but I gotta say something that may get u a little mad @ me. About.....5,000 years ago someone invented A SHOVEL! We know that Atlanta normally doesnt get this type of weather but come on! Yesterday I was THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAD A SHOVEL ON MY BLOCK!! All the snow and ice was fresh and knowone had even attempted to do anything about it. Later in the afternoon some kids and a few men came out to clean off their cars. They used their hands to move snow to the side as I continued to shovel. The mayor and the city of ATL can only do so much. WE ALL NEED TO HELP EACH OTHER OUT! PLEASE INVEST IN THE BASICS! A SHOVEL DOES NOT COST THAT MUCH!

    January 12, 2011 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Atlantan

    Looking at the facts from this story. The snow began more than 72 hours ago. With 10 pieces of snow removal equipment, the city has cleared 150 miles of high priority roadways. That is 15 miles per piece of equipment for a whopping 1000 feet of cleared roadway per hour per piece of equipment. Are these 10 vehicles parked? Why are more roadways not cleared by now? We want answers.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      I agree, I'd like to see some sort of accounting of how the equipment has been used. I know for a fact that piedmont didn't have a single piece of equipment go over it until yesterday. And a 2nd piece today.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. S.Colbert

    If you live near the equator in a state where snow rarely falls, then you don't need to have a large fleet of snow removal vehicles. Just stay off the roads. I mean how much snow are you planning on having in the next 25 years. There is no good reason for Atlanta to increase it's fleet. It's just being stupid and reactionary. I mean do they even sell snow tires down there?

    January 12, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Travis

    I live in North Dakota where we see a TON of snow every year. I feel for the people down South the have limited resources to deal with a situation that is not would be difficult to travel and everything else if we did not have the resources. However, living up here, we expect snow and ice every year, so we are far better prepared, as you can imagine. I am saddened to think how much our society has really lost patience in the last decade. The real issue is that we have grown into a society that requires a perfect world, and the ability to do anything we want at any time. Frankly, cell phones are going to sometimes lose a connection, our power might go out for a couple hours when it is storming, or we might not be able to drive down to Wal-Mart to get something we could probably go a day longer without because of a not-so-normal weather event. Once in a while need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and realize tomorrow is going to come, even if we cannot make it to Wal-Mart.

    January 12, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Avon Barksdale

    THIS MESSAGE IS FOR THE LOCAL ATLANTA NEWS STATIONS FROM THE PEOPLE OF ATLANTA: Thank you for keeping us informed with updates on everything. At the same time WE DONT NEED A 24 HOUR TELECAST!!! Unless u have updated, live breaking news on the situation we dont want to see you! The info rolling across the screen 24/7 is good enough. JUST COME ON AT YOUR REGULAR SCHEDULED TIMES. I feel like ive been watching a non-stop JERRY LEE LEWIS TELATHON!

    January 12, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brad

    And I bet you if you asked people down there they would say government is too big and should do less. Except of course when it affects them.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      @ Brad... Atlantans aren't really complaining. We are fine with the snow. It's like a great family holiday and families and neighborhoods get together to have fun.

      We have many people in Atlanta who have moved here from the North. Many of them have adopted our way of enjoying the snow. Others have complained that we don't do it "like they did up north."

      I don't expect teh government to help me during the snow. I made all of the preparations I needed myself.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. steve

    that's one city I would never live in. nothing but trash and rednecks!

    January 12, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      I think you must be a troll because no intelligent person would write such a thing. Atlanta is a huge cosmopolitan city populated by people from all over the world. It's such a wonderful place it has grown by two million people in the last 20 years. National Geographic recently named Atlanta one of its "Places of a Lifetime" of the few cities in the US, or the world, it has given that distinction.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Greg

    I live in Norcross and I'm from Sandusky, Ohio. Let me tell you, the small town of about 25,000 people I grew up in did and still does a way better job at clearing roads than ALL of the metro area, period. I don't want to hear about that, "the north is better prepared for it" nonsense. Coming from a county that has probably 1/50th the budget of Atlanta can keep everything clear for 6 months I'm appalled at the response here. This is, however, exactly what I expected. This metro area is absolutely ill-prepared for anything outside of sunny skies and the drivers are worse. Atlanta should buy a few thousand tons of salt and buy at least a few capable plows from some northern state.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Atlantan

    Gordon7, I don't know where you are or what you do, but all the (high school/college) students in the state are ready to GO BACK TO SCHOOL. Our semester should have started this Monday, but now it looks like it won't start until the Tuesday after this weekend. I know tons of people that can't stand this stupid snow. Also, EVERYONE is outraged by the city, no, the state's response to this storm. They knew about this storm a week in advance, and they did very little to prepare. Weather forecasters on the Weather Channel and local news channels were saying this was going to be a big storm.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Atlantan

      If not all, then most.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      I'm in Gwinnett. Even though my kids have had a great time in the snow they are ready to go back to school. (never though I would write that).

      I HONESTLY have not heard a single person out here complain about the lack of a governmental response to the weather. Maybe we just think differently. We all got ourselves prepared and will drive again when it is possible.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
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