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. Ben

    I got no problem with how the CIty of Atlanta is handling things. How much equipment are they supposed to have on hand for something that happens once every 15 years or so? It would be a waste of money to be more prepared than they are now. I've been stuck in my house for three days, but I know it's not the mayor's fault. It's a lot of snow in a city that rarely gets any snow at all.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. veem

    How ridiculous! We have limited resources, so the public says 'I'm stuck in the snow and ice for a couple of days once every 10 years'. The officials are afraid they will not get re-elected, so they run off and spend millions to buy equipment. GROW UP! Save the money, stay home a couple of days, and use the funds for necessary things.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. PY

    I believed most major interstates & highways are in passable conditions, but still it is NOT SAFE to go out ther. Drivers must exercise extreme caution over icy spots. I drove to work this morning on Holcomb Bridge Road but had to turn back when my car began to loose traction on icy spots. It was not a good feeling not able to get to work but at least, I tried. When your car lost the grip on the roadway, it is beyond your control. Driving on snow isn't that bad but it is nearly impossible on ice. It is Physics peopel.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Frost E Snowman

    Spending money on more equipment is short term, since those pieces are now likely to sit idle for another 10 years unless they rent them to other municipalities as needed. If they had those 50, they could have sent them to DC last year and made back most or all of their cost of acquiring them. Uh, that too liberal or socialist of an idea?

    January 12, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Niila Kesh

    I was born in Atlanta (atlaner) in 1948. We never get snow on the ground for 6 days without major melting. I love it. I wont have to move to Anchorage after all. Dont criticize the government – We voted for Bush – how could we possible figure our how to shovel snow. Just enjoy the white suff – found a frozen dove in my front yard. It fell hard and crashed through the ice! 🙁

    January 12, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  6. d

    Sorry about all the snow and ice, hope the sun shines on Atlanta and melts most of this mess. Here in sunny Colorado we have the same problem but being used to the snow our snow plows and sand/salt trucks are always out the night before a storm, sometimes they put down sand/salt or the wet calcium stuff and it isnt needed as much but at least they are prepared. Driving in this stuff is tricky, I hate it myself but realize I have to add 30-40 minutes to any commute. Hope yall warm up soon, I saw the pictures of thick 1-2 ice on the news, bad stuff...sand and salt help cut that stuff though if it's put out soon enough. Even though we have the equipment and are used to snow in Colorado the best advice is to stay in if you dont have to go out.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bensky

    Snow should not be the number one priority during this Recession. Get a grip on your snow shovel, or hike to work.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. Niila Kesh

    I just started snowing again – some snow Mon through Thursday yeah!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  9. bitterjack

    The only reason this is news is because New York made a big deal about it. In New York, it was actually a union vs. city dispute (contract negotiation time) that caused the slow response. In Georgia, it is because it doesn't snow there all the time. Hardly ever in fact. /sigh Just because an event occurs doesn't mean you people have to get all emo over it. Why aren't there any happy stories about people making their first snowman or first snowball fight?

    January 12, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. sara


    January 12, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  11. sara

    Valuing a DOLLAR is superior to Valuing Lives here. Yes I am Livid and yes it is Stupid for a big Metro area such as Atlanta is living 20 years Behind Times. Unexceptable!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Kathy

    People in the Southern states are complaining about the inconvenience the snow/ice has caused. We have become a nation of whiners always whining when we don't get our way or are inconvenienced in any way. We all need to take a step back and think about how people from a long time ago were able to get through harsh winters with snow/ice of at least three or four feet sometimes more. How did they do it with plows, etc? We have become too soft. That will be our downfall when other countries decide to fight us and take control of us. We'll lose the freedom that our people have fought so hard for. I say, "Pull together, roll up our sleeves, and get to work! This is our country! Get the drug dealers, drugs, whiners, hanger-ons, lazy people out of here! We have no room for them! Keep America strong! Don't be a nation of whiners! Work together as one nation UNDER GOD!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • tallblondes

      If you were here, Kathy, you'd see that people aren't really whining that much about snow and ice. In fact, most people are taking it in stride and staying light-hearted about it. It's not the snow or the ice that's causing the problem. It's our inability to deal with it financially that will leave a financial impact of its own. Have you noticed the economy lately? We Southern states have cause for worry. Worry and concern and a desire to discuss improvements is not the same as whining.

      January 12, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. tallblondes

    Snickering at sara's "Unexceptable!" Which brings me to education. More money spent...probably more furlough days for teachers. Great. Just great. Well I hope everyone stays safe and warm while we wait for the sun to deliver us.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Suburban Atlantan

    Tony makes very good points. This lack of planning and separatist mentality has plagued this city for decades. In the late 60s and early 70s most outlying counties (Cobb, Gwinnett, Fayette, etc) opted not to join in the MARTA bus/ future rail system because they didn't want that "urban element" moving into their county. Then end result is a city that has massive sprawl and ridiculous traffic. The GDOT solution is to expand the highways instead of investing in expanding the Marta rail system. The counties then start their own bus services instead of trying to build on the infrastructure that is already there. 35 years later this region is still divided with no signs of pulling together to help the current residents or future residents. Every year there is a new "city" being created out of Fulton County and still much talk of creating another county, as if 159 counties is not enough. Pull together people.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. Kathy

    Without plows, not with. Sorry!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
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