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. Lost

    I guess we should blame citizens as well as the government. How many people living in Atlanta have snow tires or chains for their cars to drive in less than favorable conditions? How many people have salt or sand for their sidewalks? How many people have blankets and emergency kits if the power goes out? Give me a break –

    January 12, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • sara

      Blame it on the citizens that are paying their TAXES for these Serviices!

      January 12, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  2. WKN1

    After all the city and state hype about how prepared they were going to be this time around I would give them a D- in execution.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  3. MaddieCait

    I have to wonder how many of those people who want the government to go spend money on a fleet of snow removal equipment are going out and buying snow blowers and plows for their pick up trucks. Doesn't make good financial sense at this point unless the Atlanta government has a big surplus of money (doubtful). Additionally, the businesses that sell that equipment are likely selling at a premium this week. Be patient people. Let the Atlanta government be good stewards of your money, and don't let public rhetoric drive a foolish action.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. eber

    it is a disaster and the guy in charge of the dot is saying "if fine", he is so out of reality. 285 was impassable for 24 hours.they should take care of roads before and not very after.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. StormeeATL

    This is not just happening here, also happened in Wisconsin where I am originally from and where you would think they would be much better prepared to deal with snow. I wonder if this is all economically based, because many municipalities including Atlanta have been hurt very badly by the recession, maybe they are literally waiting for the snow to melt so they don't have to spend more money?

    January 12, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. PRMRI3000

    I didn't read the article. No need to read it. How much snow does Atlanta see? Hardly any. Why would the city waste money on plows and salt when there is really no need for it. Quit complaining Atlanta. You pansies wouldn't last a week in the north where there is snow all winter. Grow a sack.

    January 12, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  7. Suzy

    It is ridiculous that a major city should be completely shut down for the better part of a week because of a little ice and snow. I understand why the secondary streets were not sanded but the major highways? C'mon even southerners with limited pieces of equipment should be able to handle that. Makes we wonder what would happen in the event of a true emergency like, God forbid, a 9/11 or Katrina type catastrophe. Somehow, I don't think I'll rely on the government to help me.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • fed 123

      Compare the snow fall in Atlanta with hubby's you-know-what. Then you will really see what the city of Atlanta is up against. How many businesses in and around the WTC or New Orleans were up and running in 2-3 days? Warnings are of no value when you have to scamble to find equipment to deal with the snow and ice. All of this should have been in place months, years ago. The people in Aussieland, Haiti, NYC(WTC) and New orleans(KATRINA) just didn't prepare for what hit them. They had plenty of warnings. They just didn't listen.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. tony

    This article is poorly reported. The failure is not on the city but on the part of GDOT the Georgia Department of Transportation that failed to do anything to clear or maintain the highways and major thoroughfaires until Tuesday night. I-75 I-85 285 peachtree road piedmont road, ponce de leon northside drive and north avenue are all state roads and it is GDOTs responsiblity to clear them and develop a plan to maintain them Mayor Reed after seeing the fail on Tuesday negotiated with GDOT to take over the clearing of the major artierial roads in the city while GDOT struggled to decide what to do with the interstate highway system that is paralyzed. This is the same government agency that was chastised by the US goverenment for failing to develop any long term vision of improved mass transit. The US gov't suggested that the state create a new department to handle mass transit because in their opinion GDOT is culturally predisposed to building roadways and could not fathom mass transit as an option. It was for this reason that GA did not get any federal stimulus money for transportation. This department is full of yokels with no real understanding of how modern cities operate, transportation, or sustainability and mobility. The man at the top of this agency yesterday told a local reported that he planned on contacting northern states to find out how they hand large snows and ice like this really now is when you decide to educate yourself on how to handle 5 inches of snow? And just so that everyone understands we get snow every year here it usually melts by the next day so we just take a snow day but at least once every ten years we get a storm like this its not unprecedented. Also local reports clearly stated the storm was coming and that it would not warm up until the following week end. We here had that warnning on the Thursday before the strom hit which was Sunday night. GDOT has a lot to answer for here.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. Charlie

    OK, This is a once in a decade event, or perhaps century. People need to understand that and deal with it accordingly. Spending all kinds of money on excess equipment that is used once every 10 years is ridiculous.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. AC

    Global warming WHAT!

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

    I'm not blaming the DOT, city of Atlanta, or anyone else. We do not have the resources to deal with this kind of weather, and it is dumb to pay for expensive equipment that would hardly be used. People are so impatient – they can't just wait until things melt. I read countless stories about stupid college kids who venture out to go to event – just for fun – and others who just couldn't go a few days without going to McDonald's. That's why people kept getting stuck on the roads and getting in wrecks. The only people who should have been out were DOT crews, emergency services personnel (hospital workers, police, fire, etc.), and other people who were needed to deal with the weather conditions (news reporters, plumbers, tow trucks, etc.).

    January 12, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  12. John S

    People are dumb in the South. As if cities are supposed to have hundreds of pieces of equipment they may use once in a dozen or more years. The one thing they needed was salt spreaders and if you lack salt then all the plows in the world would not do much good. Best thing they can do is sit it out and wait for warmer weather.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Brickell Princess

      They're not dumb, they are complacent. Just look at how Charlotte Doglass International Airport (CLT) has been closed for two days! This is in the nation's second largest banking city and their airport has to close down because they didn't plan and ran out of de-icing fluid!!! This whole nation has turned into a complacent excuse making bunch of lazy slobs.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Syracuse


      January 12, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Katrina

      Actually, I would venture to guess that those doing the most complaining moved here from northern cites. Those of us that's lived here for a while understand the impact a major winter storm has on the area.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Brickell Princess

    So, are you enjoying the climate change caused by global warming? Keep in mind that nothing is stopping the planet from permanently freezing over. Then, what foods will you grow? Where will you keep warm?

    January 12, 2011 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. BeautifulBlackWomen

    I live in Kennesaw Ga the road out here are very icy and dangerous. My husband works in Buckhead and has had to work from home the pass three days. We move here from Minnesota but our home town is Chicago. In all my 40 plus years I have never seen a city shut down until now. How can we blame anyone for a natural event like this. I am glad government and the city are thinking safety first.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Junior

      Kennesaw is not ATL. Conditions are probably very different out there.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tony

    The issue is not spending money on equiptment its developing a plan of action to handle the situation. There are plows here there is gravel and salt. The problem was there was no coordination to handle the situation. It was the mayor on Tuesday that decided to develop a plan to provide clear access to the firestations hospitals ems stations and police departments on the State highways. I agree that people should have stayed home and most did. but access to emergency services is a government obligation. Because the major arterial roads are impassible response time is now much slower. The issue is not about spending tax payer money on plows its about responsible government and emergency planning.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
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