Coweta County, city and state crews were continuing to work to roads Thursday, and crews will be working through the night – again – to help make Coweta roads passable.
Crews began treating roads Tuesday night as the winter storm arrived and haven’t stopped. Officials say no amount of treatment would have fixed the roads on Wednesday because roads were above freezing when the snow started falling Tuesday night. The snow melted and then froze into ice sheets topped with snow.
But by Thursday afternoon, things were improving rapidly.
“All the crews are working on the shady spots,” Coweta Associate Administrator Eddie Whitlock said just after 3 p.m. Thursday.
Crews from the Coweta Road Department were armed with several dump-truck mountain sand spreaders and plows and motor-graders – typically used in grading work – to scrape ice, snow and slush off roads.
By Thursday afternoon, crews were on the “far reaches of the major secondary roads,” Whitlock said. Those roads included Handy Road, Corinth Road, Mt. Carmel Road and Tommy Lee Cook Road.
Most areas where the sun could hit the pavement were in pretty good shape, Whitlock said, though refreeze was expected overnight.
The day crew was set to work until 7 or 8 p.m., when a smaller night crew will take over.
Things will be reassessed Friday morning to see what additional work needs to be done, Whitlock said.
By Thursday afternoon, streets in the city of Newnan were in pretty good shape, though there were some hilly and shady spots that were still icy, said City Manager Cleatus Phillips.
“It’s not perfect by any stretch,” he said.
Newnan Public Works has two salt/sand spreaders, and some crews were out spreading salt and sand/gravel with shovels. The city also has one plow.
Crews were able to do a lot of work on roads Wednesday night thanks to a 5 p.m. mandatory curfew, which kept most motorists off the streets.
Newnan Public Works crews were working 12-hour shifts.
“Some of my crews haven’t been home since Tuesday. They’re still here, sleeping at the shop,” Phillips said.
Technically, state highways such as Hwy. 34/Bullsboro Drive and U.S. 29/State Route 14, are the responsibility of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
“But what happened Wednesday morning is, due to the severity and the traffic, we shifted our action to the state routes,” Phillips said.
City crews put about 70 percent of their efforts on state routes Wednesday, Phillips said, primarily Hwy. 34/Bullsboro.
State crews were out Tuesday pretreating state highways with a liquid brine solution, then came back to treat roads with gravel and salt, said Natalie Dale, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The winter storm caused road issues in an unusually expansive area.
“We were treating in 83 separate counties,” Dale said.
Typically, “we are used to seeing a warm up the day after a storm, where it is easier to clear things,” she said. But with temperatures staying so low Wednesday, “it is much harder to clear things off the road.”
And “this type of precipitation was harder to plow because you had the earlier ice under it. This storm was very different than many we have dealt with” because of the “shockingly cold temperatures,” Dale said.
By Thursday afternoon most roads in Senoia were in pretty good shape, though shady areas could have patches of ice 25 to 30 yards long, said Senoia Police Chief Jason Edens.
“Yesterday, the roads were pretty tough,” Edens said Thursday.
There weren’t accidents with serious injuries, but there were issues with tractor trailers.
“They would get halfway up hills on 16 and 85 and not be able to go any further,” Edens said.
The highways would be shut down so that public works crews could put material on the roadways to help with traction and get the tractor-trailers moving again.
Plenty of motorists got stuck and ran off the roads, and in many cases, police officers – in four-wheel-drive vehicles – would pick up motorists and take them home, leaving the stranded cars on the shoulder until conditions improved.
“We’re looking forward to Sunday,” Edens said. “When it’s going to be sunny and 60.”