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Traffic volume biggest culprit in local storm response
by Joan Durbin
jdurbin@neighbornewspapers.com
February 05, 2014 11:01 AM | 1580 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anyone who wasn’t already on the road home by the time the first snowflakes fell on the morning of Jan. 28 was in jeopardy of having a long and taxing journey.

SnowJam 2014 caused almost as much havoc on surface streets in north Fulton as it did on interstates around the metro area. And it wasn’t because cities here didn’t get a jump on enacting emergency plans for dealing with the hours-long snowstorm.

“We had equipment out on the streets prior to the storm and had particulate material laid as quickly and safely as we could,” said Milton City Manager Chris Lagerbloom.  “The result was passable roads within several hours of the icing event.  The public safety was maintained.  Crews and staff worked around the clock to get people home and the roads clear.”

 But as it came to be everywhere, “the volume of cars was our biggest hurdle,” Lagerbloom said. “With Ga. 400 being closed at Haynes Bridge, the travel volume from there into Milton, or through Milton and into Cherokee and Forsyth counties, was huge.” Still, “I am satisfied with Milton’s response to the snow event and grateful to our staff who worked tirelessly to make a difference,” the city manager said. “We look forward to participating in the after action studies of this response.”

Roswell opened its emergency operations center very early Tuesday and as the day wore on, staff made every effort to mitigate the effects of the snow on the traveling population

According to its director, Steve Acenbrak, Roswell Department of Transportation was actively monitoring the weather starting the Sunday prior to the storm. All vehicles, personnel and equipment were on call and ready to deploy and the city set up its Emergency Operations Center around noon to coordinate the response.

Initially, the winter storm warning was for south metro, but based on a storm warning upgrade to north metro in the early morning hours Tuesday, RDOT closely monitored local conditions throughout the morning and ensured that crews were ready to respond, Acenbrak said. Trucks were fueled and topped off with sand and gravel, and crews went out at noon to treat roads. Then, Fulton County Schools tweeted at 1:37 p.m. that “all students will be dismissed at 1:45 p.m.” 

“That gave us effectively eight minutes to react to the surge in traffic,” Acenbrak said. “Soon after schools are released, the roads became impassible with an overwhelming number of vehicles on all roads in all directions. Our crews were caught in the congestion as they continued their response to the storm.”

City government began operating on reduced staff but the Cultural Arts Center opened its doors to SnowJam refugees.

 Mary Williams of the Roswell Visitors Bureau said Holiday Inn and Roswell Suites both sheltered people in their lobbies after their rooms were filled. Home Depot on Woodstock Road also stayed open for snow refugees and Publix brought meals over to them, Williams said.

Other “good snowmaritans” included Centennial Kroger on Holcomb Bridge Road, Roswell Presbyterian Church, Pastis on Canton Street and Spiced Right BBQ.

With an official state of emergency being declared by the governor, some of Roswell’s costs will be reimbursed. But those costs won’t be fully determined until later this week.

 

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