Complete coverage of the winter storm:
- Officials: Stay alert even as roads improve slightly
- Residents thankful for few places that are open
- Government agencies prioritize roads to be cleared
- Schools close again, taking things ‘day by day’
- VIEW: Photos taken by The Times' photographers
- VIEW: Photos submitted by The Times' readers
When a bad storm hits, state, county and city transportation departments grab their respective priority lists and start chipping away at the highest traveled roads under their jurisdiction.
Rick Parham, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said clearing the interstates has been DOT’s main concern this week from the snowfall. So while state routes like Dawsonville Highway and E.E. Butler Parkway have been treated, iced over interstates took some resources away from those roads Monday and Tuesday, he said.
“We do send trucks out (to the state routes) but not as frequently,” he said. “Those state routes don’t get the attention that the interstates do initially.”
David Dockery, public works director for the city of Gainesville, said the city has four trucks and about 15 employees clearing roads that fall under its jurisdiction, specifically non-federal and non-state roads inside city limits.
About 15 roads including Enota Avenue, White Sulphur Road and Pearl Nix Parkway are on the city’s high-priority list, Dockery said.
On Tuesday afternoon, operators of Hall County trucks turned their attention to secondary roads for the first time since the storm hit.
“I’m hoping we’re in the home stretch and can knock this out,” said Shane Daniel, handling dispatch for the county’s road maintenance department.
City and country trucks can be used to clear state routes, Parham said.
But city crews had their hands full with local roads Tuesday, Dockery said.
“Once we’ve done all that we can do as far as scraping and gravel, then we just have people out, looking for problem spots, looking for areas that need more attention,” Dockery said.
As the interstates improved Tuesday, Parham said he expected the DOT to start shifting additional attention to four- and two-lane state routes.
Parham said DOT has about 100 snowplow-equipped dump trucks to cover 21 Northeast Georgia counties. About 250 employees split into two 12-hour shifts have been on the roads consistently since Sunday night, he said.
The department hasn’t run out of salt or gravel, he said, but it has ordered more of both.
The city stockpiles salt and gravel for big storms, but it has had to contact local quarries to replenish supplies, Dockery said.
Hanson Aggregates on Candler Highway opened Tuesday so the city and county transportation departments could buy gravel from its quarry, sales manager Brent Brown said.
“We take it upon ourselves as part of the community to step in and help out,” he said. “We’ll step in and help out to provide safe travels.”