Sharon Edwards retrieves her car on Thursday.
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Photo: JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM

Motorists urged to retrieve abandoned cars by nightfall

With road conditions now passable city-wide, state officials were turning their focus Thursday to getting abandoned cars safely off the roads.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency said that they have scaled back efforts that began at 10 a.m. to have state troopers and National Guardsmen and women transport motorists back to their cars in four-wheel drive vehicles. There were 2,029 abandoned cars on metro Atlanta interstates as of Wednesday evening. A new tally was not available on Thursday afternoon.

As part of the effort to move them, troopers and soldiers were refilling gas tanks and providing jumps to people with dead batteries so that stalled vehicles also could get moving. People were asked to go to two staging stations at the Westlake MARTA station and to Mount Paran Church if they needed a ride.

However, “what we heard in the middle of the day was it really wasn’t a big turnout,” said Brittany Sharp, spokeswoman for GEMA.

At an early afternoon press conference, Gov. Nathan Deal urged motorists to get their vehicles off the roads by 9 p.m., lest they be towed. For more information, he urged people to call 511.

That should be possible, since there are no more closed interstates. As the sun rose and the temperatures with it, interstate and state routes are passable everywhere around the city Thursday morning, according to Karlene Barron, spokeswoman for Georgia Department of Transportation.

“Definitely off the roadway you may have ice in shaded shoulder areas, but we really think the roadways will be in really good shape today,” said Barron.

Nevertheless, state officials urged motorists around midday to stay off the road a little bit longer. Some people are still walking back to their cars on their own or backing up other vehicles to jump batteries, so drivers should slow down and watch for people out on foot.

“We’re still seeing icy patches, if they have to go out just use extreme caution,” Barron said.

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