Pre-planning, cooperation, communication kept roads open - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Pre-planning, cooperation, communication key in keeping roads open

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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

It made all the difference.

Albany and Dougherty County officials say pre-planning and cooperation among government departments helped prevent road problems in South Georgia.

Planning sessions over the weekend and Monday between Albany and Dougherty County public works, emergency management officials, and the state department of transportation made the difference keeping Albany roads open.

"We would have looked like Atlanta," said Albany Public Works Director Phil Roberson. "We'd have had a parking lot out there on the interstate, or on the bypass."

After Monday's meeting, the state brought 60 tons of salt to our area. Public works here only has sand. Tuesday and Wednesday's rain then cold froze the sand, leaving the bridges treacherous.

"About 2:30 in the morning the situation changed," Roberson. "The ice froze immediately and it was thicker than I've ever seen it on the bridges. So we were able to use the salt, rock combination from DOT when the sand wasn't working."

Officials had staged county and city equipment for quick response. Working together, they kept the bridges open, and They say keeping the public informed also played a key role.

What really made the difference for us, is that the people heeded the warnings. They stayed in," noted Dougherty County Public Works Deputy Director Chucky Mathis.

Both city and county officials say hard lessons learned during the Flood of 1994 helped them prepare for this winter storm and respond to changes.

"Always ask the questions 'what if this. What if that happened,'" said Roberson. "And have the people and the assets available to respond if conditions change. So you can keep folks safe, which is our number one goal."

There were dozens of crashes on the bypass bridges as that ice battle continued until this morning, but no serious injuries, and no gridlock.

Dougherty County's Chucky Mathis said the flood of 1994 also taught them to learn from each disaster. Public works will purchase salt and keep it on hand now, ready to use along with sand when ice builds up on the roads.

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