Ready, prepared, and equipped: The City of Atlanta gets infrastructure ready for poor weather conditions

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Students walk through campus on a rainy day. Photo by Justin Clay | The Signal
Students walk through campus on a rainy day.
Photo by Justin Clay | The Signal

When the weather is anything other than clear, sunny skies, traffic becomes disastrous and Georgia State campus is flooded with standing water.

Georgia State student Ivan Manisa can attest to the amount of traffic and accidents he has faced while commuting to campus through all types of weather conditions.

“Weather plays a major factor every day when commuting,” he said. “Rain makes everyone drive slower and more accidents tend to slow traffic down. Students also tend not to come when it’s a cold misty Monday morning.”

Georgia Emergency Management Agency’s Meteorologist Will Lanxton said traffic depends on the weather condition and claims ice elicits a different type of traffic rather than rain. He also said poor traffic conditions are typically created by a combination of weather and Atlanta’s imperfect road system.

According to the Renew Atlanta website, there is a backlog of repairs to Atlanta’s infrastructure, costing almost a billion dollars. Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council recently had a plan to tackle the necessary infrastructure repairs approved by Atlanta citizens. The majority of the budget is allotted to transportation, which has a budget close to $200 million.

Reed believes that the infrastructure repairs will greatly improve traffic, and blames Atlanta’s infamous congestion on unsynchronized traffic lights and bridges needing repairs, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“If you’re talking about Atlanta in particular, I don’t think it’s a secret that the way the roads in Atlanta are set up aren’t particularly ideal, on any day, so when there’s any sort of weather that’s out there obviously drivers slow down and [the roads] are even more backed up than they already are,” Lanxton said.

This year preparations for winter weather are better than ever, according to the AJC. Last year’s Snow Jam left hundreds of drivers stuck in the snow-covered interstate and roads across Atlanta. This year, the recommendations made by Gov. Nathan Deal’s Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force are being executed to the very last detail.

On the Georgia Government website, just a few of the many recommendations are creating new salt facilities, implementing better communication, and keeping school superintendents updated on emergency weather information.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution article provided a list of some of the new tools and technologies provided this year. This list included an estimated 1,900 employees on call and ready to address winter weather emergencies. The city also plans to have nine new salt stations, spread across Atlanta and all of Georgia, to melt the ice on roads by lowering the ice’s freezing point.

Lanxton confirmed the new changes for how Georgia will handle weather emergencies.

“I think we’ve certainly learned from past experiences …. over the past couple of years in particular our responses have improved, each time we’re getting better, we’ve been communicating internally better, we’re communicating externally better, we’re partners with the public,” he said.