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DOT on snowstorm: We know we can improve
Officials also described workers response as valiant
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Georgia Department of Transportation workers' response to last week's snow and ice storm was "valiant," but the department also has ideas on how to improve future winter weather responses, top state transportation officials said today.

"There were 2,000 employees working 12-hour shifts nonstop from (Jan. 9) to Friday," Transportation Board Chairman Rudy Bowen said.

"They were working in very dangerous conditions to serve this state. Theirs was valiant public service and I thank them for their sacrifice and commitment."

He and DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith Jr. were speaking in a press conference this morning in Atlanta.

"We had some challenges," Bowen said. "Things that didn't go as well as we would have liked. We acknowledge that and are committed to learn from it."

Smith said that employees statewide logged some 70,000 hours of work and expenses exceeded $5.5 million. Work was done on some 15,000 miles of U.S. and state highways.

"Our employees did everything they possibly could," Smith said, adding that two days after the storm ended, "99 percent of our roads were at least passable.

"But we know we can improve our overall response."

Future strategies include increasing the use of private contractors' equipment and employees, staggering shift changes of response crews so that there is continuous presence on the roadways, adding supplemental stockpiles of de-icing material at certain locations and improving "planning and response coordination" with local governments.

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