Senoia to buy equipment for snow events
by Sarah Fay Campbell
The city of Senoia will likely be purchasing some sand/salt spreading equipment to help treat city roads during future snow and ice events.
“I think we’re all shockingly aware of the concerns of the last week and the unfortunate incident that happened on Georgia 85,” said Senoia Mayor Larry Owens at Monday’s meeting of the Senoia City Council.
A Griffin woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Jan. 28, as roads started to get dangerous because of the snow fall.
Senoia City Manager Richard Ferry said that he, Police Chief Jason Edens and Public Works Director Randy Padgett were in constant contact with each other and with Coweta County officials during the storm event.
Ferry said Rockaway Road was the city’s main concern, and county crews were able to get to it about 10:30 a.m. the following morning.
“However, when we look at our emergency response and how we are dealing with storms like that, we need to look at more than Rockaway,” Ferry said.
They also need to look at Ga. Hwys. 16 and 85, as well as Pylant Street and Howard Road. Hwys. 16 and 85 are officially the responsibility of the Georgia Department of Transportation. “However, we knew fairly early on they weren’t going to get there,” Ferry said.
“We talked about what needs to be our main responsibility. If our main task is providing for the health, safety and welfare of our people, then perhaps 16 and 85 also become our responsibility.”
The way city crews currently treat streets in the event of winter storm is effective, but it’s inefficient. “It’s basically putting the material in the back of a truck and shoveling it out,” Ferry said. “It won’t cover the areas that need to be covered as well as they need to be covered.”
“I definitely think we need to be more prepared,” said Councilman Maurice Grover. “I’m definitely in favor of making a financial commitment.”
Edens said that, on Jan. 28, another accident had Hwy. 16 shut down for two hours. There were no injuries, but traffic had to be detoured through city streets.
“So ultimately, by not treating 16 and 85, we could have potentially caused a more hazardous environment in town,” Edens said.
Ferry said he researched spreaders. A dump truck mounted one is $10,000, and one for a pickup truck is roughly $5,000. Grants should be available this summer to cover half the cost.
In addition to the spreaders, there is the ongoing cost for the salt and sand, as well as the need to store it out of the elements.
Grover asked if the county is making any changes to its emergency plans, and Ferry said he did not know. The city will need its own snow response policy.
“There is absolutely nothing the county is going to be able to do for us in the time we need it,” said Councilman Jeff Fisher. “We’re not going to be able to be prepared in all cases. Some of the responsibility goes onto the residents as well, for their ability to drive and what they do,” he said. People were out driving even though they were asked not to.
“The roads need to be prepared before” they get bad, said Councilman Chuck Eichorst.
It’s difficult to know how bad things might be, Ferry said. “Sometimes it snows and it just goes away quickly. If we jump up and salt all the roads and it goes away… we might come up with a little bit of hit and miss,” Ferry said, or “a good bit of miss.”
“We’re going to get chastised no matter what,” Fisher said. “I’d rather be chastised for overreacting than watching something happen and not being prepared for it.”
Chief Edens expressed how helpful Coweta County was during the storm. Coweta Emergency Management, and Emergency Management Director Jay Jones in particular, “was extremely responsive,” Edens said. “They did everything they could to get us where we needed to be. It came down to mere resources,” Edens said.