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January 29, 2014

Some roads remain icy

Officials urge caution driving this morning

Local public works officials warn that many secondary roads could remain treacherous into this morning.

“The roads that don’t have trees hanging over the right of way and are getting a lot of sunshine are clearing up pretty fast,” said Whitfield County Public Works Director Dewayne Hunt said Wednesday afternoon. “The problem is that on the roads that aren’t getting a lot of sunshine (the ice) is staying around because the temperature is still below freezing.”

The National Weather Service predicts that temperatures will reach 38 this afternoon.

Hunt said that efforts to plow the snow have been hindered because it is packed in tight and  a thin layer of snow and ice remains on the road even after it has been scraped.

“That leaves a very smooth, slick surface,” Hunt said.

Hunt said as temperatures rise the snow begins to separate and plowing becomes more effective.

“We are focusing on blading the secondary roads today (Wednesday) and into tomorrow,” Hunt said. “We’ll probably blade them twice.”

Hunt said that has probably put out between 600 and 800 bags of salt so far.

“We can’t salt entire roads. We are concentrating on hilly spots and bad curves, place where we know accidents are most likely,” he said.

“We have two dump trucks putting out sand and gravel mix, and we about 10 pickup trucks with individuals spreading out sand and gravel,” he said.

Hunt said the majority of crews would work until around 8 p.m. Wednesday. The overnight crews would continue to salt roads, but he said their main function would be to make sure that emergency responders could get to anyplace they need to go.

In Dalton, road conditions were very similar. By late Wednesday morning, most of Dalton’s major traffic arteries had largely recovered from the previous day’s snow storm.

“Thornton, Walnut Avenue, Glenwood, the Bypass are in pretty good condition,” said Dalton Public Works Director Benny Dunn. “They aren’t perfect, and people still need to drive cautiously. But I hope by sundown, they’ll largely be clear.”

But Dunn said numerous smaller streets remained difficult or impossible for traffic to move on.

“A lot of our subdivisions have streets that have hills or a lot of dark spots that aren’t getting any sun,” he said.

Dunn said he had 15 people and four trucks working all night trying to keep the major roads open and to help with any emergencies.

“In fact, (Wednesday) morning a funeral home had to respond to death. Someone had passed away, and we had to treat the street and even the driveway so the hearse could get to the body,” he said.

Dunn said didn’t know just how much salt brine the public works had put out.

“We’ve been so focused on mixing it and getting it out on the roads we haven’t had time to add up how much it came to,” he said.

But he did say that with temperatures rising, the salt brine should be more effective.

“When it drops down below 15, it’s just not all that effective,” he said.

The city did not pick up garbage or recycling Wednesday because of the icy streets and because the landfill was closed, but they plan to resume pickup today.

“We’ll have extra people out there, and we’ll be picking up Wednesday and Thursday today,” he said.

Chatsworth Public Works Director Everett Jones said all city streets were passable by mid-afternoon Wednesday.

“In the shady areas, there’s still some ice, but we’ve got them salted down, and they aren’t too slick,” he said.

Jones said crews worked overnight spreading salt and sand. Crews managed to make their regular Wednesday garbage pickup, though Jones said they ran later than usual. He said he doesn’t expect any problems with garbage pickup today.

Officials with Dalton Utilities reported no major problems with any service.

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