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North Georgia winter weather crews prepare to treat roadways

GDOT is gearing up to keep the interstates and state highways clear; local governments are focusing on their own roadways.

ATLANTA — They drive onto the snow and ice so everyone else won’t slip, slide, crash, or suffer injury or death. Crews are preparing to treat bridges and roadways ahead of Georgia's potential winter storm

The priority for state and local road crews beginning this weekend will be clearing the ice and snow off of the roadways as quickly as possible.

Taxpayers expect it and demand it, and local and state governments are doing all they can to gear up to get the job done.

Georgia Department of Transportation is ready to keep the interstates and state highways clear, while local governments across north Georgia are pouring all of their resources into the task of keeping their own roadways clear.

Thursday, Cobb County’s DOT crews checked their equipment and trucks and hooked up their spreaders.

Bill Limbaugh with Cobb DOT said crews are ready to begin treating hundreds of miles of roads beginning Saturday at about 6 p.m.

“Saturday, as of right now, our game plan is to send our brine trucks out, start treating the bridges, on the secondary streets, and main thoroughfares,” Limbaugh said, “to kind of combat any accumulation or icing.”

Cobb County Communications Director Ross Cavitt said COVID infections and absences among county employees are stretching the healthy winter weather crews thin, just when they’re needed.

They will be working 12 hours on and 12 hours off.

“We do, at Cobb DOT, have enough (for) two full shifts,” Cavitt said. “So we’re going to keep those going and just overlap them and leapfrog them as this event happens.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, marking two weeks in office this coming Monday, has been meeting with department heads to make sure everything is ready to combat ice and snow for a day or longer. His top staff consists of veterans of the previous administration along with new appointees.

Dickens said the team went over weather patterns and weather scenarios to prepare.

“I asked about our stockpile of salt and brine, about our spreaders, our equipment, and they all said that we’re ready to go and that we’ll be prepared to take on whatever the weather event may be,” he said.

In DeKalb County, Public Works Director Rick Lemke will be focusing his crews on keeping major roads clear, first, for emergency vehicles, while also getting ready for several days of clearing downed tree limbs long after the snow and ice melt.

“We’re going to concentrate first on those emergency services-- the roads and facilities that are critical to health, safety and welfare like hospitals and police and fire and FEMA and things like that,” Lemke said. “And we’ll do the collector streets and the major streets before we get into the smaller ones."

Lemke said they're also taking a proactive approach to uprooted trees.

“You know, we’re going to end up with trees that are gonna come down.  We’ll have to clear those trees, and our first priority (after removing ice and snow) is clear the trees off the roadways to make the roadway passable for traffic and emergency transportation," he said.

Crews are expecting most of the snow and ice to melt and evaporate by Monday or Tuesday, but they’re trying to get ready for whatever the storm brings.