GDOT: 'We're prepared for possible winter weather' - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

GDOT: 'We're prepared for possible winter weather'

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Georgia's Department of Transportation said it has taken steps to avoid a repeat of the 2011 ice storm that paralyzed metro Atlanta.

The department is preparing for possible winter weather late Thursday into early Friday.

Georgians criticized GDOT for its response two years ago. Since then, it has made some improvements to its winter weather plan.

The agency now has 11 new salt barn hubs staged along the interstates in the area that will allow trucks to load up with a salt-gravel mix more quickly. A key one is located at Spaghetti Junction and I-85.

"If they're working that interchange and they run out of material, they don't have to drive 15 miles to the Cheshire Bridge salt barn then come back," said GDOT Spokesman Mark McKinnon. "They can go right underneath that interchange, refill the truck and get right back to it."

Also new this year, GDOT crews will use salt brine, a mixture of salt and water, that they can apply before icing occurs.

"We've done a lot of research with other states," said McKinnon. "If we get out just ahead of the storm, and get that out on the roadways, the ice will not bond to the roadways." 

If winter weather does occur, this will be the first test of the salt barn hub system. Each truck will be loaded with the salt-gravel mixture as well as the salt brine. The staging areas are located in areas that ice up more quickly than others.

GDOT said it is more concerned about ice, not snow, in the metro Atlanta area. It also has crews prepared to roll out in north Georgia where snow accumulation is possible.

Drivers cringe at just the thought of black ice.

"We said, 'whoa, you know how Atlanta gets with the sight of ice.' It's kind of scary. You want to take your time on the road. I know with my particular office we're closing an hour early just to let us get home in time and safely," Danielle Anusiem said. 

Zach Norton feels more confident driving a truck. He offers advice to others on the road.

"Go slow. Leave a lot of space between cars and don't freak out," Norton said. 

While GDOT said it is better prepared for winter weather, some drivers are skeptical.

"I don't think they are," said Thomas Tyler who remembers the 2011 storm. "Not at all. Not at all. Last time it was awful."

The agency has not called in additional crews yet but has them on standby if winter weather does occur in the days ahead.

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