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. Kathy

    Without plows, not with. Oops! Sorry!

    January 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  2. sara

    Filling "one" pot hole in a lowly neighborhood ....they send out 6 guys and a truck! Stupid.....Where's my tax dollars! 5 of the guys stand around while 1 digs> Go figure. Stop paying my taxes to your family, friends and cronies for their WAGES and Clean up the Streets after a "little-bitty" snow and ICE.

    January 12, 2011 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. gordon7

    Actually I don't hear many Atlantans complaining. Most of us don't want to spend the money on road clearing equipment that only gets used once a decade or so. Salt??? No thanks, don't want the stuff ruining my car or my lawn. I can wait at home a few days without complaining.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. sara

    falling on city streets...breaking body parts....Sue Em....maybe then they'll clean up their ACTS and stop blaming others.!!

    January 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. northerner

    I am so sick of reading, EVERY YEAR, how the south doesn't get snow blah blah blah. You do get snow – this isn't the first year. Get prepared and deal with it.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sara

    I am married to a disable veteran that need medical care at any given in the hell will I get him to the Hospital! Yes I am Livid!!

    January 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. gordon7

    @ Kathy.... No whining here in the Atlanta suburbs.....and I haven't heard anyone whining or complaining either. We all knew about the forecast and the grocery stores were full over the weekend with people preparing for the storm. The only people I have heard complaining are transplanted northerners whining about our lack of salt and snow plows. We natives are just fine, thank you.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gordon7


    True, we get snow. It doesn't happen every year, but we do get snow. Almost always the snow melts before noon the next day. I have lived in Atlanta for 53 years and this is only the third time I remember roads being impassable for more than a day.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Canadian Miss

    Got to tell you that I just drove back from Florida (Friday) through Atlanta and heard all the warnings on the news. Next day when leaving, we stopped for breakfast and I have to say, if 50% of the people who owned cars kept their tires up to snuff (I'm talking replacing those all season radials not snow tires), you would be having half of the traffic problems I see on the various news feeds. Geeze 3/4's of the cars in the parking lot were all but bald (sp?). Any wonder you slide all over the place and can't get up a 5% grade. I would think you'd have the same problems you have on snow and ice, in a heavy rain storm.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gordon7

    @ Sara

    If one gets out on icy roads and sidewalks and falls it is that person's fault....not the city's.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    Mayor Reed should look into leasing heavy equipment from local contractors that would not be working due to the weather. The city should develop a plan, present it to local contractors and have them signed up and available if needed in the future.The contractor would include his own personnel to operate his equipment as well as the equipment itself.The city pays the contractor and the doesn't have to purchase equipment that may or may not be used again. If everyone involved is proactive and doesn't wait until the last minute, the roads shouldn't be such an issue to keep clear.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ken

    LOL - As someone who lives in the Chicago region, I am always amazed at the sheer stupidity of the buerecrats in Southern areas. OH the snow fell far faster than we expected. We doubled the amount of equipment. Listen ... all these idiots had to do was call someone in Ohio or Illinios, say here is the coming forecast and what do we do. Those folks are so used to snow they would have told them exactly the equipment they needed to clear the roads, how fast it would take, etcetera... all based on decades of experience. Instead these idiots simply "guess" that doubling the equipment will work with the result being they get plowed under. Oh so funny....

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

    @ Ken...

    With all due respect, we really don't want the advice of people in Ohio, Illinois or Michigan. We have been quite happy staying at home for a few days with our families. In the South, snow is seen as a great treat! We get to go sledding, build snowmen with our kids and do those things we read about. This only happens for us every once in a while. I have thoroughly enjoyed being "trapped" at home with my family for three days...sitting by a fire, going for walks, sledding, etc.....

    January 12, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. uvsw77

    Here is a newsflash for you: Government is not the answer to all of your problems. Not much can be done about a massive ice storm, other than dumping a ton of salt on every road in one of the biggest cities in the U.S. Not many cities in the country (especially in the South) have a large fleet of snow plows and/or ice to account for a once in a decade storm.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. gordon7


    Nor do we want tons of salt poured onto our roads when it will eventually ruin our cars or get into our streams.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
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