February 11, 2014

GDOT battling winter weather in northwest Georgia (Updated 10:35 a.m.)

Submitted by the Georgia Department of Transportation

— The Georgia DOT — in conjunction with Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Georgia State Patrol (GSP) — has been responding to the first of two likely winter weather events: one has been a source of ongoing snow accumulations in northwest Georgia since midnight, and a second likely to begin tonight and continue until perhaps Thursday morning that is expected to bring more snow and possible freezing rain and ice to north Georgia and metro Atlanta.

Snow and ice clearing crews in northwest Georgia have been out treating the following impacted highways:

• I-59 and State Route (SR) 136 in Dade County

• I-75 in Catoosa County

• SR 157, SR 48, and US 27/SR 1 in Chattooga County

• SR 151 and SR 193 in Walker

• SR 101, SR 100, and SR 140 in Floyd County

• I-75, SR 156 and SR 53 in Gordon County

• SR 225 in Murray County

• SR 136 in Gilmer County

• SR 337 in Walker County

• I-75 in Whitfield County

• SR 20 in Bartow County

Temperatures are expected to be considerably colder during the second event heightening the risk of ice accumulation through Thursday. While temperatures are forecast to remain above freezing, rain and snow are likely and freezing rain may also occur. Driving conditions will worsen throughout the day and particularly so tonight and into Wednesday as the second weather system is expected to feature much colder temperatures and carries the risk of generating significant icing.

“As Gov. Deal said earlier, we have been ahead of the game with the first of these two winter weather events,” Dewayne Comer, district engineer at the GDOT office in Cartersville, said. “We will do our best to stay ahead of it and keep everybody moving safely in the second round. The public can certainly lend a helping hand by refraining from all but absolutely necessary travel, especially if the wet pavement becomes icy.”

When winter weather hits northwest Georgia, keeping the state highways safe for emergency vehicles becomes a top priority. GDOT crews focus first on clearing interstates and heavily traveled state routes from snow and/or ice, and will specifically target areas vulnerable to freezing, like hills, ramps, bridges and interchanges.

Motorists are urged to:

• Slow down and stay behind the snowplows. The road behind the plow will be the safest place to drive. Allow at least 10 car lengths between your vehicle and snowplows or hopper spreaders.

• Do not pass. The plows are wide, and sometimes a group of trucks will work in tandem to clear snow quickly, especially on major highways.

• Be particularly aware of black ice conditions on surfaces such as bridge decks and entrance and exit ramps late tonight and the early hours of tomorrow morning.

• Remember that technology helps, but only to a point. Four-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes and traction control are beneficial advancements in today's cars, trucks and SUVs, but they can't take the place of good driving habits and the need to reduce speed on snowy or icy roads.

• Call 511 or visit www.511ga.org to get current information on road conditions. Georgia 511 is a free phone service that provides real-time traffic and travel information statewide, such as traffic conditions, incidents, lane closures and delays due to inclement weather. Callers also can transfer to operators to request assistance or report incidents 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More information is available at www.511ga.org.

Motorists can access real-time, statewide, route-specific information on accidents, road work, traffic and weather conditions through Georgia 511, a free phone service. By dialing 511, callers also can transfer to operators to 24 hours a day to report incidents or request assistance. The system can be used to access transit providers, major airports, rideshare organizations, tourism information and 511 systems in surrounding states. Additionally, 511 is available online.

GDOT partners with sponsors for assistance in funding 511, thereby preserving tax dollars and helping sustain critical services. For more information about 511, visit www.511ga.org. For more information on GDOT, please visit www.dot.ga.gov. You also may follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GeorgiaDOT-Northwest) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/GDOTNW).