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Paulding used all snow vehicles to battle ice storm
by Tom Spigolon
February 04, 2014 02:47 PM | 1544 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The county government last week employed all of its eight snow vehicles – including one piece of equipment for only the third time in 16 years – as it worked at times in a losing effort against icy roads and rapidly falling temperatures.

County Transportation Director Scott Greene said his department needed less traffic on heavily traveled main roads and more traffic on lightly traveled side roads.

“We had our hands full,” he said.

Side roads were devoid of the traffic needed to make the road treatment work. It relies on friction from tires to stir the mixture to melt ice, Greene said.

Though the entire county suffered the same fate as the rest of metro Atlanta, the hardest hit areas in Paulding appeared to be the northeastern area which includes Seven Hills and Cedarcrest.

Greene on Friday said his crews had worked in 16-hour shifts around the clock for three days to put at least 200 tons of sand and salt on 1,000 miles of county government-maintained roads.

The director noted county emergency crews dealt with a number of wrecked vehicles in the January 2011 ice storm but had a difficult time with last week’s event.

“The timing this time was even worse,” he said. “We doubled our peak hour, with the school [traffic] and the [afternoon rush hour] on top of each other.”

He noted workers using the department’s four motor graders had trouble with the ice that quickly formed on Paulding’s roads last week – after relying heavily on them to clear ice from roads in January 2011.

“This time around, I guess the pavement was considerably colder,” Greene said. “When that snow hit the pavement, it stuck immediately. Traffic traveling on it left it a big ice sheet.”

One motor grader spun out of control and wrecked as its driver put pressure on the blade to remove ice, Greene said.

“Even our heaviest big machine could not cut the ice off the road,” he said.

The main areas on which workers focused included areas around hospitals and fire stations for emergency vehicles. There, they placed a calcium chloride mixture that’s highly effective but very expensive, Greene said.

The county highway department used a new, smaller vehicle to put sand and salt on main roads but they were already clogged with traffic, he said.

“That made it completely impossible to get to the roads and do much with them until more of the vehicles got off,” Greene said.

“Motor graders were just about useless this time. When it gets below 15 degrees there’s nothing you can do for the road.”

Another big problem for Paulding government is its topography – being located in the southern foothills of the Appalachians, he noted.

“We had a hard time getting to places,” he said.

He said the county does not have more equipment for clearing snow because it is “just not cost-effective for us.”

The county has one snow plow blade it can place on trucks, but used it for only the third time in 16 years last week, he said.

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