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. Ferris

    You mean that great big airport has a city attached to it? Good to know!

    January 12, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rick

    What a bunch of cry babies. We have members of our family that are in their teens who until last year had never seen snow and we live in this area. How could a city possibly be prepared for this when its something that never happens? This is just mother nature and we need to all learn how to take a few days off when theres nothing we can do about it.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • apb

      I want to move to Atlanta. I was born, raised and am currently living in Connecticut and this storm dumped 29 " on on our town here. Last Friday we had 12" of snow fall and right after Christmas we had about 13". We've had more snow in the last 2-2 1/2 weeks than we usually have on average all winter! I hate snow!!! As soon as your ice melts down there, I'm getting on a plane to Georgia to relocate!!!

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

      Rick, we are talking 5 ins. Your car can go through that for pete sake, no need to shut down the city.

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

      Michelle, I'm a yankee who lived in the south for 8 years. The problem is that during the day, it warms up to 40 or 45 degrees, then cools back down to 20 overnight. The snow melts during the day, but then refreezes and turns to a thick layer of ice overnight. That ice stays there until the road completely dries or is plowed or salted. Since there aren't enough plows, the ice on the secondary roads stays and takes several days to clear up.

      Also remember that no one in the south has snow tires - maybe half of them have all-season and the other half have summer tires. Probably with very little tread left. Driving on ice with those tires is impossible. But people down there know it, so they just wait it out and stay home. It's the yankee's who usually get into car accidents down there when it snows. They aren't used to driving on untreated roads.

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

      Bravo Bob Camp!!! I couldn't have said it better or more truthfully!

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

      Bob– THANK YOU! You couldn't have explained it better. So sick of everyone criticizing this part of our country. I don't think you will find southerners making fun of any northerners who endure summer heat waves- no air conditioning, etc.

      If you can't be patient with mother nature... too bad!

      January 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Charles

    Why all the complaining? This happens every few years and ya'll act like it is the end of the world. It cost money to purchase and maintain the equipment that is needed for somw and ice removal. I drive a truck so this is normal. The simple things is for you people in the Atlanta Metro are is to learn how to drive and use a little common sense. You job is is not as important as some of you think unless you are EMS, Fire/Rescue, Nurse or Doctor or Law Enforcement. I know how to park when it gets to bad. Learn how to deal with it. Either that or pay more in taxes. Bottom line, get off the Mayor and city gov'ts back. They are doing the best that they can with what you, the citizens of the Metro area are willing to pay. Bottom line; shut up or put up.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      That's the funny thing: I haven't really heard anyone complaining except CNN! The natives,especially, love this snow and the time off.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • deeza

      Couldn't have said it better, Charles! Some people just live to complain.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jed

    At least northerners can't be prima donnas anymore. I do recall the New Yawkers getting upset about their snow removal or lack thereof last week. Many a well planned attack disinegrates when stuff hits the fan. Human nature loves the blame game.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juls

      NY had 18 inches of snow, in a very short period of time, packed into tiny streets with a few more people than Atlanta. Winds were 30mph +.

      Atlanta acts like its never had/seen snow before.

      And you will NEVER hear me complain about extended periods of 90+ degree temps. That is my favorite weather.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andy

    If you want faster snow removal, buy more equipment, to buy more equipment you need to (1) pay more taxes or (2) buy less of some other essential city service. This is called risk management. As Charles said, you Atlantans can afford to park your cars for a day or so, while the city crews do their jobs. Here is another idea, pick up a shovel and some rock salt and go help the workers out since you can't go anywhere.Stop whining and thinking you have world class service in all areas, on the cheap. It aint happenin in 2010!

    January 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dani

      Or in 2011. 🙂

      January 12, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff

    Snow removal equipment, labor, and products are very expensive. In the northeast, our taxes are much higher, partly because of this expense. If everyone in Atlanta is willing to pay higher taxes every year to prepare for this once a decade event, I am sure the city will be better prepared next time. If not, most of the snow and ice will melt on its own over the next few days. The government can't spend without first taking the money from the taxpayers. So – higher taxes/clean roads now or lower taxes/clean roads in 2 days?

    January 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. charles bowen

    I Live in Upstate New York with ice all the time. You can salt it ,and sand it But untill the temp rises and it melts you are'nt going to plow it. Winter Sucks ! Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    January 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. gordon7

    Andy...I don't know where CNN got this story. I haven't heard anyone complain. We are enjoying the snow big time!

    January 12, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NE-Snowbound

    The cost of that equipment is nothing compared to the many millions of dollars that your businesses are losing right now. Jeez, just buy some 30 year old equipment on Ebay or Craig's List to save money, and have a stockpile of sand and salt, just in case. Even if you use it once every 10 years, you've got it on hand and it's a one-time expense until you use it. We've got a foot of snow in NH already and it's predicted to continue falling until sometime between midnight and 7AM, but our highways are already passable if you absolutely have to go out. When dawn comes, everything will be back up and running again. Having your city or airport shut down because of an inch or two of ice and snow shows a complete lack of preparation. It doesn't have to cost a lot to be prepared. Just buy up old equipment. I'm sure it will work fine for your 2-5" snow "monster storms" and be a drop in the bucket compared to what your businesses are losing.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • gordon7

      On the northside of Atlanta we got 8 inches of snow Sunday with an inch of sleet on top of that Monday and freezing rain followed for 24 hours. I know we donj't getthe snow you all get, but this was more than just a dusting.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • MSB

      NE-Snowbound - you need to tell the people in Atlanta and other places, how to drive on ice, since you seem to be so experienced.

      January 12, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |

    @ RICK... no ones is crying... this is conversation is beyond the snow.... Wheres the money going? I have been here since 1996 and for a city that have BOOMED over 10 years, all i see is and EVERY YEAR all i see is hwy 85 being over paved ..... but are city light or outdated are hwy are outdated... come on; who really runs this city and its budget....

    something fishy is going on

    January 12, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mtboots

    Whoo hoo. A whoppin' 5 inches of snow.
    You must be kidding.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |

    compare and contrast are highway with Houston Texas....

    The Rest of y'all can Save the Fun snow stories for the Kids....

    Im more concern with the city of Atlanta is its budget .....

    January 12, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |

      im more concern with the city of Atlanta and its Budget...

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

      Really... you want to compare Atlanta's and Houston's highways?

      Atlanta – Nice, smooth, lines easily visible especially at night and in the rain, well drained.
      Houston – Uneven, poorly stripped, easily flooded.

      Don't even get me started on the side streets. I know in Atlanta a lot of people complained about the potholes, but those folks have never, obviously, been to Houston or they wouldn't be complaining.

      January 12, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |

      @ B ...... IM NOT talking about the WEATHER PROBLEMS......... AS FOR TEXAS AND FLOODS ; majority of there HIGHWAY are beginning to become ELEVATED..

      HOUSTON HWY ARE FAR BEYOND ADVANCED THEN OURS ... THEY EVEN HAVE TRAFFIC LIGHTS THAT HAVE SENSOR TO LET IT KNOW WHEN TO CHANGE .city is doing things to MAKE changeS..... and B.... Im from HOUSTON TEXAS... so please dont get me started....

      when was the last time you been to texas... I dont know how long you been here in atlanta, but... atlanta will tear up a nice paved road just to go over it again...... dont believe me ask annnnnyyyyy boddddy.....

      January 12, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eric

    I agree with other posters. The only complaints I heard from neighbors or on TV has been from the folks stuck at the airport or at the bus station.

    CNN appears to be fabricating this, in an effort to sensationalize the story.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JustObvious

    It was an ice storm, not a snow storm. There is little any city can do with ice. I have seen fire trucks piled up in wrecks in Toronto years ago at their airport and they get snow all the time.

    January 12, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Sandy

    In every story I see concerning the "failure" of some government agency to do something the "people" want there is a lot of abuse and criticism. So people, take responsiblity. If you don't like it, run for office. Or get involved in community activities. The "government" is just run by people like you.. .they are not omnipotent. They can't predict a major weather catastrophe any better than you can. Does your company ever make mistakes? Fail to predict sales or growth accurately? So quick to criticize when your neighbors who work for the city are out there in this bad weather trying to clean it up...for you. Back off a bit and appreciate how hard these people are trying to bring the city back from a major weather event. And prepare for more. Our weather patterns are definitely changing...

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