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. Richard

    I can understand that a semi-southern state would be caught off-guard by such a snowfall, but perhaps like England they should prepare for the fact winters may have changed? Global-warming fear-mongering appears to be based on B.S., which is why 49 states now have snow on them.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Midwest wonderer

    All I can say is "whaaa, whaaa, whaaa"! Living in the Midwest, we are expected to drive in blizzards, ice storms, and snow drifts to get to work each day...REGARDLESS of the weather and road conditions. I agree that Atlanta does not hve the equipment to handle this, but if I am expected to drive on ice, why can't' you??? I don't get the day off from work, but am expected to 'tough up' and drive on it anyway!!!!

    January 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gordon7

    @ Richard...


    January 12, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. gordon7

    @ Midwest wonderer..

    How sad to live in a place with such little regard for human life. Oh well, we southerners often hear stories of people driving to work or going to school in 60 foot snow drifts, raging floods etc..... but we also watch the news and see when cities close their schools for a week or more because of in DC last year.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Haydee

    In Atlanta and grateful to have electricity though no water at the moment and Morton's salt and sea salt to keep me from breaking my bones. Lesson learned: stock pile on rock salt every December since the city seems to forgets that we have snow storms every January.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Troy

    How unusual for people to take their frustrations out on the government again over another act of Mother Nature! It's winter and even the south occasionally gets cold. And today people, even here in the north, expect every square inch of every road surface to be plowed and salted clean immediately after a storm. If not, they try and sue the road authorities for any accidents that occur. This plowing and excessive salting costs money, not to mention the environmental impact the heavy salt usage carries with it. There was a day not so long ago when they simply plowed snow and salted mainly intersections...and we somehow got along just fine. It is a fact that you CAN drive on ice and snow covered roads, just be careful. Lots of places in this country do everyday. If you have to slow down, then, oh well, take some extra time and plan ahead. Let the road crews get the main roads in good order and the secondary roads when they can. And as previously noted, this is Atlanta. In a few days, the temps will be in the 40's and this snowstorm will be a memory. Here in Michigan, even before they clear the last remaining square inches of snow covered road surfaces, the next snow will already be falling again.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony from Maryland

    I lived in Atlanta duirng the so-called snow storm. of 1993. Atlanta needs to invest either in snow plows in front of garbage trucks or be prepared to pay out of the nose for Private Contractors to do the job for them.

    This is where BFI should be making a killing in the city by applying plows on their trucks and contract them to the city. What a great business idea? Just send the check? Hahahha

    January 12, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ted

    Don't bust on ATL. The cities of NY and Philly STILL can't get it right.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. gordon7

    @ Troy...

    Thank you for a voice of reason from the north. I do not know where CNN even came up with this "criticism" story....and they are based in Atlanta! The ONLY people I have heard complaining are transplanted northerners. The rest of us have really enjoyed the storm. It's almost like Christmas!

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

      Well, not really far south, but not north either.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. gordon7

    @ Anthony from Maryland...

    You mean our blizzard in 1993? The storm people all over refer to as the Storm of the Century? Again, you miss the point. Folks in Atlanta don't necessarily want the roads cleared. We are just fine relaxing at home with our families. Temps by Friday will be in the 40's> Next week, rainy and the high 50's.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gordon7

    @ Richard.....

    You cannot imagine the response you would get from folks here if they heard you call Georgia semi-southern. We ARE the South!

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

      Yes, you are. And you're encouraged to stay there.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      I think most of the citizens of Atlanta realize that this is just a once every 10 year storm. I think they would rather save their tax money and stay inside for a few days.

      Probably what it all boils down to is CNN found one or two people complaining about it and now the headline reads "All of Atlanta is outraged"!!!!!!!!

      January 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      When in Atlanta, you'll need to head out of town to be in the South; any direction really, even North.

      The problem with snow and Atlanta is simple experience. No one has any down there, not the general public, government or business. So what, if the main streets are plowed, the parking lots won't be. No southerner with any sense should be out on barely clear roads anyways.
      I was out one year in a ice storm when I lived there. It was awful. Two cars that passed me (separately), I both later passed as fresh wrecks. Near my house the local Fox affiliate set up a camera on a bad corner (downhill twist, in the shade, near a stream, and a suburban connector), and let the film roll.

      The simple thing is that, as a nation we have multi-day snow-event shutdowns on a sliding scale, from 5 inches in Atlanta (apparently) to more than a few feet in some places north.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark in nyc

      and that's part of the ARE the south

      January 12, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      @Billish: Bet you feel smart now. Ewww, look at me, I'm a red neck idiot in the north making fun of the south, I'm soooo smart. I'm just gonna roll my eyes and leave it at that.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stan Fyfe

      I have been stuck in the city across the street from the FOX theatre. I have yet to see (or hear) a snow plow and the roads are still a sheet of ice. I can understand not having plows, but why aren't there construction payloaders and equipment out here by the dozens. There's plenty of construction in this town!!

      January 12, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      Atlanta? Isn't that up north close to Chicago?

      January 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Shawn

    I live here in Atlanta and they really need to get the story straight. People like to call this entire Metro Area...Atlanta. The fact is the City of Atlanta did a GREAT job on the roads and highways, it was those little cities "outside the city of Atlanta" that did a horrible job... like the small city that leads to the airport...College Park...which is also the same city where hundreds of truckers got stuck on highway 285 overnight. Then there are the cities south of Atlanta, "Riverdale and Morrow" where they had to shut down highway 75, and the cities north of Atlanta....Marietta where they had to shut down highways as well. Here in the city of Atlanta, I drove all over the place without a problem.

    January 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wendy Darling

      Shawn, I live in Downtown Atlanta. Do not tell me the City did a "great" job in my neighborhood, which is certainly not a "little city" or burb.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eric

      I live downtown, and think the City of Atlanta did do a "great" job, considering the resources the city has to deal with snow and ice.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      @ Shaw – You can't blame the cities for I-75 and I-285 being shut down. That's Georgia DOT that has failed to do its job. It's not the responsibility of the cities and counties to clear the Interstates.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      Shawn, really all that over 5 ins. of snow? I have to laugh, I live in MN and that is just a dusting up here.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Its funny how some of you say "Its only 5 inches". These areas arent used to this kind of weather. Just like in the summer when you all cry about 90 degree temps. Try living down here when it can be over 100 for a few months.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ian

      great job? really? how about the guy i saw ice skating in the middle of peachtree in midtown yesterday? cleanup has been terrible.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      @ Michelle

      Minnesota is also flat as a pancake. Atlanta is in the foothills of the Appalachians. All of our streets are winding and have huge, tree-shaded hills. It is a completely different scenario.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gary

      I live up in the upper penn. of mi. and I know the snow we get here is alot different than along the coast, but a good cheap solution could be SAND, we use it all the time during and after storms, cheaper than salt, you get instant traction, you can load it in any truck and you could hire the unemployed to ride in back of trucks with shovels and throw it around. It may sound dumb but you create jobs (short period but still work) and you would have less accidents. THINK ABOUT IT.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2k

      Well, the media tends to focus on whoever is the loudest so I'm sure that's why they found the people that were "outraged" at the "level of response" or whatever. I'm from the North, lived in the South for 5 yrs now. I was prepared to be shut in for a few days, went to the grocery store all that stuff. When it comes to this stuff you can't expect more than the bare minimum because that's all we have the budget for and quite frankly I'm fine with this. There are a lot better things our governments should be spending our money on than fleets of snow/ice clearing equipment that is used maybe every 2-3 years.
      And for you Northerners who turn your nose up to the South. You should really check this place out. The weather is great, the Appalacians are amazing. I live in SC so Florida is a 1/2 day's drive. Seriously drop your snow shovels and get your butts down here, you are missing out 🙂

      January 12, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • aaaaa

      @ Michelle: We got 6" of snow which turned into 3 inches of ice. I don't care where your from, you can't drive on ice. Do you have any idea how many people live here from the North? They are sitting at home with the rest of the southern folks.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      gordon7: "Minnesota is also flat as a pancake."

      You failed at geography in school, didn't you?

      January 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stillstuckathome

      I agree with Shawn and Wendy. I'm up here in Norcross (still Greater Atlanta) the roads are in a much worse condition than downtown. Yes Atlanta dropped the ball on this one, but Norcross is even worse. The State is screwing up as well. Those up north who are thinking this is funny (actually it is, I am originally from PA) have no clue why we are so screwed, its not just a mater of trucks, there are hundreds of ordinances you have in place up there that they don't down here all year long just to prepare for your snow season, Also, 75 percent of the fall came down in the first hour and took most people by surprise, every year they say a big storm will hit then it never does, I have been in 4 feet of snow in PA during the 70s, this mess is worse.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corey

      All you haters of the south go ahead and shove it. When it is 70 and sunny in late February enjoy your frigid dusting of snow. We will be laughing at you. At least our portion of the country is still growing. Why I am certain we just gained a congressional seat. Maybe it was the one New York lost!

      January 12, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • ak2k

      @Corey – my guess is Michigan. Here in SC we've seen a mass exodus of white collar auto workers from there. And all of the slight melt-off we got today, yeah, temp. just barely got above freezing today and is starting to drop back down to the teens. Say hello to a fresh new sheet of ice!...can't complain though, it will be back in the 50s next week. Well, winter was fun, hellooo Spring.

      January 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      @ Bill

      No, I actually did quite well in geography. I know enough about Minnesota to know it is in the plains and the difference in elevation from the lowest point to the highest point is only about 300 feet. In Georgia, the difference is almost 5000 feet.

      January 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gordon7

    @ Billish...

    You needn't worry one bit about that one!

    January 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Report abuse |

    The MAYOR mentioned that Atlanta owns " the most busy Airport in the United States"...... WHERES THE MONEY! We obviously don't see it in the Streets of Atlanta...

    We deserve an explanation ; or an Itemized receipt... ?

    If we are the most busiest; I expect well over developed streets and highways like Houston Texas, and they have an international Airport...

    January 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny

      The money is at the airport, as dictated by the FAA. Havent you noticed the marble floors? City can only use airport funds for other projects outside the airport if approved by a State board. State board doesnt exist due to politics and greed.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • B

      1) Just because its the busiest airport, it doesn't mean all of those people exit the airport to the streets of Atlanta. Its a Hub and Spoke System, majority of those people never leave the airport.
      2) The Atlanta Airport is also an International Airport
      3) Most cities, including Houston (I lived in Atlanta for 14 years, and so far 9 years in Houston) are not equipped to deal with these types of storms (i.e. see how well Houston did with Ike)
      4) you may now be quiet.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobVilla

      Or put some of that money towards education. Since you "are the most busiest". 🙂

      January 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      As seen in a later posting, Mr. Santiago is not a native Atlantan.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      Hey Jessie, When I walk through the airport in Atlanta I see lots of people working there who live in and spend their paychecks in Atlanta. that's where the money is.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • SoutherMan

      The money made by the airport for the city can only be used for airport improvements and maintenance as dictated by the FAA. That is a federal law. The state had nothing to do with how the money is spent. The feds say if they can spend it on what. Why are there so many dumb people in this world?

      January 12, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |

      GORDON..... anybody will tell you... that if you lived in any city for more then 10 years your considered to be from that city .... now just because i wasn't born in the same "woods" as you... doesn't justify that I don't bring a valet point into this conversation...

      by the way i was born in New York raised in Texas and been living in atlanta for 14 years.... so please

      January 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |


      seems like your telling me they bust there butts to spend there checks ; just to bust there butts again to spend there checks.... wheres the PROgression in that statement you made?

      and even so if they are..... like i said where the money going , obviously we don't see it going to the CITY of ATLANTA, but i do see an extension of the airport being build...

      INVEST IN ARE CITY NOT OR TOURISM ATTRACTION .... I love my city invest are money wisely

      January 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |


      FAA; should allow a percentage of that renveuce to be put back into the City of Atlanta since its there Melting Pot
      "catch my drift"...

      we give and give and never see a return; is so prove me wrong....

      lol ... common you call it ignorance; I call it standing up for what's right...


      January 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |

      sorry for the missed spelled words....

      Johnny; thank you for that right

      State board doesnt exist due to politics and greed.

      so why bother.....

      why even get on TV and say "Atlanta owns the Airport"

      we know greed comes with power... but a piece of crumb from the pie wouldn't hurt....

      I went to NYC last year and the city was giving away $15,000 out of there ART BUDGET to anyone who could design a new street layout on 42nd street... lol seriously!!!

      do you have a clue what are art department budget i think $1,000.00 dollar

      but Im just using this as an example....

      All im saying is ;

      I would like to see the city of Atlanta and the people of Atlanta progress; from old southern laws and ways its cool to keep are southern culture but come on its 2011 .... were not blind form the fact.... am I right?

      January 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • J

      Hartsfield is in Clayton County. That's where the money goes. I grew up there. Taxes were awesome because of the air port.

      January 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. John

    Sometimes there's a price to be paid for keeping taxes low. Not to worry folks. Leave it alone and it'll be gone by next week. If that's too long a time period, pay up and your local government will be more than happy to buy the equipment and hire the personnel to handle something like this when it happens again in...5 or ten years or so.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sasha

      So true. It's amazing that people do not see how their "I want it and I want it NOW and at no cost to ME" is their own worst enemy. Preparation for "what if" scenarios are expensive; it takes a lot of money to keep this equipment maintained year round. Besides, it is not possible to prepare for all possibilities. We have become a soft species; we complain about everything and are unwilling/unable to deal with the smallest discomfort.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
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