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. Dennis

    This guy was elected mayor of Atlanta? Are Atlantans proud of him?

    January 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      No, not really, but Atlanta is only about 500,000 people out of a metro area of five and a half million. The election was a very close one. I won't tell you why he won.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      Some people are, yes:

      January 12, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jim970

    Of course people are angry. No city, especially a big one like Atlanta, should allow such inconvenient weather. It is obviously the government's fault that it snowed.

    January 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. She Who Must Be Obeyed

    Mrs. Rumpole says "It's working". She lives in Miami and arranged a little snow for people in the other 49 states. She thinks her property value will finally increase when all those people in Atlanta and elsewhere figure out that Miami doesn't have ANY snow plows or spreaders. In fact, Miami has never needed either piece of equipment. "Come on down" is her mantra these days...

    January 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ken here, chicago,il

    Well, if someone would fire all the climatologist who said the world was going to get hotter each year and hire climate people who understand science, cities might not be caught unaware of real potential. Australia has been screwed by the AGW fraudsters who said the drought would last forever! But anyone who looks at the terrain knows that Australia has been going through drought and wet cycles for thousands of years! Atlanta even came out of a drought cycle a couple years ago! People need to understand that climate has been cycling back and forth for 4.5 billion years and nothing is going to stop it! Not even Al Gore's fat butt!

    January 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Maybe if you understood climatology a little, you'd understand that the models predict greater variability, not just a warmer climate. And this falls right in line with that prediction.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. oconee72

    Clearly this is all a result of 'global warming'

    January 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan

    Ok, I grew up in Cleveland and I live in Atlanta. Most of the roads in Atlanta are still encased in ice... and it's been 3 days! It wasn't like this was a surprise. I live Piedmont Avenue – a major thoroughfare. Neither Peachtree, nor Piedmont had been salted ahead of time. This is also less than 1 mile from Grady hospital – the major hospital in town.
    In Cleveland, when they know that there's a big storm coming, they salt ahead of time. Peachtree and Piedmont didn't get salted until 2 days after the snowfall. So – I don't know what Atlanta is doing with their snow resources, but it certainly seems that nothing was done ahead of time.
    I also blame Governor Deal. This isn't just Reed. Deal declared an emergency. All these major roads are state roads. I don't know if the money isn't there, or the snow equipment isn't there, but they saw this coming for 10 days. They declared an emergency 2 days in advance, yet still 4 days later most roads haven't been plowed or salted. Unbelievable.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      This is the first time this has happened to the Atlanta area since 1993. I have lived here since '97 and i have never seen this.
      So our city and state should invest a tremendous amount of money for resources that will be used perhaps once every 15-20 years??? That makes no sense. I know it is inconvenient-trust me I want life to return to normal just as much as anyone else- but no one is dying, no one is injured and help is getting to those who most need it. It is just inconvenient.

      January 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • laura

      I am in Nashville where its a similar story though we did not get as much snow and ice. We don't have a lot of equipment and salting isn't like they way the do it in the midwest, where I am from originally. Its certainly a pain, but I don't want my tax money spent for a once in decade event. The money is better spent elsewhere. its going to be 40 degrees this weekend and it will all melt.

      January 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      @Dan, I was listening to wsb radio on Thurs or Fri and they had a representative from GDOT that said they did not want to lay salt on the roads ahead of time for fear of wasting resources (salt will blow away, be ineffective). But the representative insisted they were prepared.

      January 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      I'm another transplant to the Atlanta area – from Michigan. While I realize that this storm is different (6" of snow plus freezing rain), I'm also appalled at the response from the state of Georgia. The snow fell heavily from 10pm-1am Sunday night (just as predicted), yet the GA DOT did not send any trucks out until 7AM! And then, they just spread gravel and salt. Why couldn't they PLOW the snow early Monday morning before the freezing rain came in and turned it to ice?
      Atlanta claims to be a world class city, yet our airport, our "main street" Peachtree, and many offices and schools are closed for the 4th day in a row tomorrow. How much will that cost in lost revenue for this week, and for lost future business due to the utter lack of response?

      January 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Why should Atlanta invest a lot of money in snow removal equipment when it is only required about every 10 years!!
      If you don't like the way winter storms are handled in Atlanta, maybe you should move back to Cleveland.

      January 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bruce

      Amen Brother! The snow removal and de icing system in Atlanta sucks bad. School has been closed for three days! WTH! & why does this mayor sound illiterate! By the way thats not how we do it in Pittsburgh anyways! GO Steelers!

      January 13, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachael M

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

      Wouldn't this quote from the mayor indicate that winter conditions like this happen every 2 or 3 years? How could you not be prepared for something like that?

      January 13, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    I'm not a snow removal expert, but it seems to me that there's a lot of pickups around. It seems that they should have invested in plows that attach to pickups. That, and they can make use of the dump trucks to plow the roads. It's a bit unbelievable to me that Peachtree is still encased in ice 3 days afterwards.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charlie

      You are right, you are no expert. you can put all the plows you want on the road, they will not remove the ice. To remove the ice you need something like salt or other deicing agent. It's Atlanta for Crying out Loud, why should they be constantly prepared for a once in 100 years event?

      January 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gzo

    I'm in Miami. It's 65 degrees.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. JHT

    This is rather amusing because even 30 years ago Atlanta was inadequately prepared to deal with snow or ice. The ice in that area can build up to be easily more than a quarter inch thick, heavy enough to bring down telephone and power lines. And forget about driving unless you have tire chains.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dan

    It also seems to me that this isn't a once every 10 – 15 year event. With climate change, it seems like this stuff is becoming more common. Just last year we had a similar event and the roads were unusable for 2 days. I understand that being prepared costs money, but how much money was lost due to a lack of economic activity for the last 3 days? How much money was lost because the public transportation system was shut down, because the universities were shut down, because every store in the city was shut down? 5 inches of snow should not have been a calamity. And it was not a surprise.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • leesan

      Why not use multi-purpose vehicles that a blade can be attached to for snow removal. We have family in NH that use them and roads and driveways are cleared with very little problems. To the people who said, if you don't like it here, move, we did move after watching Atlanta and the area fall apart with poor service, private and public; corrupt and ineffective govts. and a nastiness that seems to pervade the entire area.

      January 13, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Peach

      you nailed it Dan!!!

      January 14, 2011 at 2:10 am | Report abuse |
  11. jayatl71

    Why not just be prepared for every disaster – wait – that would cost millions of tax dollars that people aren't willing to pay EVERY year.

    Let's be serious, the city needs to hire private companies to deal with this type of problem – at least the work will get done in a timely manner and the tax payor would ONLY have to pay whenever the problem occurs.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • e

      and where would these private companies be based? What company would be able to work with a profit cleaning thousands of roads one or two days a year?

      January 12, 2011 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peach

      I agree with the Multi-Purpose vehicles by private firms. I am also not opposed to another penny sales tax by the state to fund some new trucks that could be used for all seasons.

      January 14, 2011 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  12. Snowbird

    Dan, Atlanta does not have any snow resources. If you have been in Atlanta any amount of time, you know, typically, it is gone the next day. Yes, the response has been slow, but I know this is the only snow event of the year. How many snow events do they have in Cleveland each year?

    So, when are you moving back to Cleveland?

    January 12, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob

    Yesterday, I literally took my life in my hands attempting to travel from Auburn to Atlanta. The last several miles of the ordeal were horrific with cars in ditches and jack-knifed tractor trailers littered everywhere. It was only by the grace of God that I was able to fly out of Hatsfield-Jackson! Shame on Atlanta for a total lack of preparedness and a completely ineffective response.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • e

      shame on you for being out on the roads instead of just postponing for a day or two or rerouting your flights.

      January 12, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peach point exactly!! I am thinking there was millions in lost revenue and commerce lost this week. read my post later on in this thread. If Memphis, (who also got 4 inches of snow) can get their act together and get the roads cleaned and dry within 48 or so hours, then why can't we here in Atlanta and Georgia????

      January 14, 2011 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. God

    Sorry everybody! One more week to go.

    January 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Iceman

    Snooze ya Lose!!

    January 12, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
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