Preparation, hard work and a little luck helped keep north Georgia highways clear during last week’s winter storm, the state’s top transportation official said Thursday.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry praised his employees’ response to the storm, which dropped up to 13 inches of snow in some parts of the state.
The storm snarled metro Atlanta traffic for hours Friday when school shut down early. Many commuters weren’t happy about it. But McMurry told the State Transportation Board Thursday that high traffic volume – not poor road conditions – was behind the traffic jam, which had mostly cleared up by the time rush hour would normally be in full swing.
McMurry said preparation and hard work helped keep state highways clear. Workers applied brine to state highways before and during the storm to keep snow and rain from freezing. By the time it was over, he said they had spread more than 450,000 gallons of brine and 2,300 tons of salt on nearly 15,000 lane miles of roadway.
The intensity of the storm took the state by surprise. McMurry said the National Weather Service told GDOT that snowfall in Cobb and Carroll counties beat records dating to the 1800s.
But he acknowledged Georgia also caught a break.
“The great thing about this event, it was a snow event,” McMurry said. “Freezing rain and sleet is a different kind of event that makes it much harder to respond to.”