Home Environment Athens Battles Winter Storms, Complaints of Poor Street Care

Athens Battles Winter Storms, Complaints of Poor Street Care

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When winter weather takes its toll, Athens has its own plans to ensure the safety of its citizens. The city allocates and spends quite a bit of money each year to mitigate the effects of winter storms.

Spending can range anywhere from $50,000 to $200,000 a year when it comes to snow and ice control. Instances of three or more inches of snow often cost upwards of $15,000, according to Andy Stone, director of the Engineering and Public Works Department.

Costs must be covered, ranging from salt truck drivers and overtime for those who drive them, to keeping the trucks themselves in good repair. The city also makes sure salt storage facilities are full.

Deputy Service Safety Director Ron Lucas talked about the preparation for such events.

“Typically when we know there is a storm, we make sure our salt trucks are in good repair,” Lucas said. “We will keep staff over, or call them in during the day. We will have trucks ready to roll as soon as snow starts coming in.”

When winter storms come around, the city ensures the safety of its citizens through prioritization.

Though the Public Works department of the city does not work directly in conjunction with the police department, there is still collaboration.

“We do not work with the sheriff, other than to monitor his ‘snow emergency level,’ Stone said. “The Athens Police are integral to our operation – if it starts snowing or icing during non-regular work hours, they contact Public Works to let us know we need to deploy salt trucks.”

Prioritization is very important when it comes to keeping citizens safe, be it driving on public roads and bridges or on sidewalks that people walk on.

“The biggest real concerns I have are providing passage to emergency vehicles and ensuring treatment or plowing on roadways where there is a high crash susceptibility – that is, on hills and bridges, in high-volume intersections, and on some curves on higher speed roads,” Stone said. “The concerns I generally hear from people are very specific to their situation, [such as] ‘when is my street going to get treated/plowed.’ Our job is to protect the traveling public and allow for the movement of commerce as best as we can, which involves prioritization.”

Flat roads are often forgotten in favor of hills and bridges, but seeing the danger for certain areas of the city allows officials to prioritize effectively. Lucas mentioned there are often people who complain about the conditions on their road, but often come around to the city’s point of view on prioritization, suggesting that “typically they are okay with it.”

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