A focus on employees, training, and preparations
ATLANTA, GA – Winter officially arrives on December 21 and the Georgia Department of Transportation (Georgia DOT) is reminding the public of its efforts year-round to prepare for the winter weather season.
“Our staff in the State Maintenance Office and across the districts work year-round to ensure we have the materials, equipment and training in place to adequately prepare for any weather event,” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. “We have seen tremendous response from our personnel in recent weather events such as Hurricane Idalia, and I know the same will be true for any winter weather event that hits Georgia this year.”
Every year, each of Georgia DOT’s seven regional districts takes inventory of materials and equipment used for winter weather events. Stockpiles of salt, calcium chloride and other materials used to battle ice and snow are inventoried and orders placed, if needed. Crews of maintenance experts fan out across the state’s roadways to assess routes and snow-removal capabilities and review all safety and training procedures to ensure crews and the motoring public remain safe during a snow or ice event. Equipment including snowplows and brine trucks, among others, receive any necessary maintenance. And Georgia DOT’s emergency plan is in place to reallocate district resources to the most-needed areas during an event.
This year, safety of Georgia DOT’s crews has been a top priority. “Our crews across the state spend countless hours away from their families, sometimes having to miss holidays or weekends, in order to respond to weather events to help clear roads quickly and ensure travel is safe for everyone,” said Emily Fish, Georgia DOT’s assistant state maintenance engineer. “We ask a lot of our crews during these response efforts and it is imperative that we prioritize their safety above all else. To help with this, we conducted a two-day winter weather exercise in early October that covered everything from safety training, equipment and preventative maintenance, an overview of event plans, resource location overviews, and even conducted a mock winter weather event response. We had approximately 500 employees from all seven GDOT districts participate, providing an opportunity for additional training and cross-training many employees who are newer to the department.”
Here’s a look By the Numbers at Georgia DOT’s winter weather arsenal, which includes approximately:1,922 employees on call covering 40,359 lane miles of interstate and state routes53,880 tons of salt43,520 tons of gravel128,400 gallons of calcium chloride446,970 pounds of calcium chloride (granular)1.8 million gallons of brine393 snow removal dump truck units (one plow + spreader + dump truck = 1 dump truck unit)61 F-250 pick-ups with plows and spreadersCapacity to store over 130,000 gallons of calcium chlorideAbility to produce 50,000 gallons of brine per hour statewideThirteen tankers to dispense brine on metro Atlanta interstates before winter weather hitsThirty-one 5,000-gallon tankers to apply brine treatment to interstates and critical routesThe Forest Park facility has an automated brine production unit with 220,000 gallons of storageSix multi-lane tow plows to clear two lanes in one passAll single and tandem trucks have the ability to plow snow and ice and/or spread salt for de-icing.
If a winter weather event is forecast to impact Georgia roads, Georgia DOT initiates emergency response plans immediately – monitoring the storm, preparing crews and equipment and collaborating with key partners such as the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Homeland Security (GEMA/HS). Interstates and state routes are prioritized to keep clear and passable, especially for emergency vehicles.This year’s winter season in Georgia is expected to be wetter with cooler-than-average temperatures due to El Nino according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
During winter weather events, Georgia DOT urges motorists to buckle up, use caution, minimize unnecessary travel and reduce travel speeds especially in the overnight hours to ensure that Georgia DOT crews have room to treat and clear roadways. Motorists are encouraged to keep an emergency kit which includes a snow/ice removal brush, cat litter to help with traction, an extra blanket, a first aid kit and snacks in their vehicles. For the most up-to-date travel information, visit www.511ga.org or call 511 to stay informed, and follow Georgia DOT’s social media channels for additional updates.
For more information on Georgia DOT’s preparations as well as tips and additional resources, please visit the department’s winter weather page.
Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT and its nearly 4,000 employees are committed to delivering a transportation system focused on innovation, safety, sustainability and mobility. The Department’s vision is to boost Georgia’s competitiveness through leadership in transportation.