ATLANTA – Top state transportation officials said today Georgia Department of Transportation workers’ response to last week’s snow and ice storm was “valiant” and that the Department came away from the event with several ideas to improve future winter weather responses.
“There were 2,000 employees working 12-hours shifts non-stop from Sunday (January 9) to Friday (January 14),” State Transportation Board Chairman Rudy Bowen commented. “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.”
Chairman Bowen’s comments came at a press conference he and Georgia DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith., Jr., held to discuss the Department’s storm response.
“We had some challenges;” Bowen continued, “things that didn’t go as well as we would have liked. We acknowledge that and are committed to learn from it.”
Commissioner Smith noted that Department employees totaled some 70,000 hours of work and Department expenditures exceeded $5.5 million during the event that encased some 15,000 miles of federal and state highways in snow and ice.
“Our employees did everything they possibly could,” Smith observed. “Only 48 hours after the storm ended, 99 percent of our roads were at least passable. But we know we can improve our overall response. We always try to improve. There are several things we’ve already discussed and will strongly consider implementing in any future occurrences.”
Among those potential strategies are:
· Increasing the use of private contractors equipment and employees to supplement DOT forces in major event responses;
· Staggering shift changes of response crews so that there is continuous presence of crews on the roadways;
· Adding supplemental stockpiles of material (salt and gravel) at strategic locations; and
· Enhancing planning and response coordination with local governments.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to both its citizens and its environment. Georgia is the 3rd fastest-growing state in the nation, yet 49th in per capita spending on transportation. Additional transportation revenues are imperative to grow and sustain Georgia's economic vitality and quality of life through the 21st Century. For general information on the Georgia DOT, please visit our Web site (www.dot.ga.gov).