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Georgia DOT: Roads in good shape, but will refreeze tonight

2:55 p.m. update: Sun and wind have helped clear ice from metro Atlanta highways. But the improved conditions won’t last.

Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Scott Higley said state highways are expected to refreeze as the sun goes down, making driving a hazardous proposition this evening and early tomorrow.

“Our biggest concern for the evening hours and overnight is for the refreezing of roads and complacent motorists,” Higley said.

GDOT crews will apply brine and calcium chloride to state highways this evening to try to prevent them from refreezing. It also will use salt and gravel to break up ice. But Higley said motorists should still expect slick roads.

“You can’t plow ice. You can’t scrape ice off the roads,” he said. “You have to wait for the salt and gravel mixture to break up the ice and let the sun and wind do their job.”

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12:20 p.m. update: One measure of how busy the Georgia Department of Transportation has been today: The agency is responsible for about 18,000 miles of roads statewide. Of those, 12,849 have been affected by the winter storm, the agency reports.

That’s almost three-quarters of the state’s roads.

Midday traffic is light on metro Atlanta interstates. Major accidents on those interstates have been cleared. But numerous smaller ones are still causing trouble on state highways.

Local roads also are treacherous. In Gwinnett County, for example, police reported working 69 traffic accidents late Wednesday morning. There were still 17 intersections or stretches of road in Gwinnett that were closed.

10:41 a.m. update: Southbound I-85 in Jackson County has reopened, but traffic remains backed up for eight miles, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. The agency is urging motorists to take alternate routes. All southbound lanes on the highway closed earlier because of a truck accident at Ga. 53.I-20 westbound also has reopened in Newton County. Earlier, a disabled tractor trailer has closed all westbound lanes at mile marker 87.

Though one or two lanes on interstate highways are passable, GDOT urges motorists to stay off the roads today, if they’re able.

“There are multiple crashes that are blocking interstates and state routes across the state which are severely impeding our efforts to clear roadways,” said Georgia DOT State Operations Engineer John Hibbard. “Ice is among the most difficult winter weather condition to deal with, but our crews continue to use all resources and materials available to treat trouble spots where possible. However, motorists should not expect to return to normal driving conditions today. The safe decision is to heed warnings and stay off the roads.”

9:27 a.m. update: Snow and accidents continue to hinder traffic on metro Atlanta highways.

Andy Doyle, state maintenance engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said one or two lanes are passable on interstate highways across the metro area. Some highway ramps are trouble spots, and GDOT is trying to address those, he said.

GDOT has closed the South Metro Express Lanes until further notice.

All westbound lanes of I-20 at mile marker 87 in Newton County remain closed because of a disabled. The highway should reopen around 10 a.m. And all southbound lanes on I-85 remain blocked, and probably won’t be cleared until 2 p.m., GDOT reports.

GDOT urges motorists to stay off the roads if they can.

Meanwhile, MARTA rail and bus lines are operating on a modified schedule because of the weather.

Cobb and Gwinnett counties have canceled all transit service Wednesday.

8:05 a.m. update: The sun is up and snow is tapering off in some areas. But the Georgia Department of Transportation says you should still stay home, if you’re able. 

Traffic remains light on metro Atlanta highways. Average speeds are 40 to 50 mph in many places. But icy conditions remain a problem. 

A disabled truck has blocked all westbound lanes of I-20 at mile marker 87 in Newton County. The highways is expected to be cleared by 8:45 a.m.

An accident involving two trucks has closed all southbound lanes of I-85 at Hamilton Mill Road in Gwinnett County. The highway is not expected to be clear until 2 p.m. Another truck accident has blocked all lanes of southbound I-85 at Ga. 53 in Jackson County. The highway will be cleared there by 11 a.m.

An accident has blocked the northbound ramp onto I-85 at Camp Creek Parkway in Fulton County. It is expected to be cleared by 9:15 a.m.

“We are urging folks to stay off the roads,” GDOT said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, MARTA says it’s experiencing “extensive delays” on its Green Line. Its other lines also are experiencing delays because of the weather.

6:45 a.m. update: Widespread winter weather is making it hard for the Georgia Department of Transportation to keep up with snow and ice on the state’s highways. 

GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said winter weather is affecting roads from Columbus to the Tennessee state line. The agency applied brine to highways north of Macon beginning Tuesday. But it has not kept some roads from icing over. 

“Brine is effective. But when you’ve got this continual level of melt and snow and really low temperatures, there are going to be icy conditions on the road,” Dale said. 

GDOT began applying salt and gravel to highways last night and is plowing this morning. But conditions are working against road crews. 

“This is a very light snow. It’s blowing. It’s creating a lot of visual issues,” Dale said. “It’s not that wet snow that you can easily plow.” 

Dale urged motorists to stay off the road, for their own safety and to allow crews to clear the roads. 

“This is not the storm to roll the dice and get out on the roads,” she said.

Original post: Traffic is creeping along on metro Atlanta highways as icy conditions prevail in some areas.

Traffic is lighter than normal because many schools are canceled. But average speeds on local highways are 30 to 40 mph in many places and below 30 mph in others.

The Georgia Department of Transportation urges motorists to avoid travel, if possible. GDOT prepared for the weather by applying brine to state highways north of Macon.

MARTA is operating but experiencing delays because of the weather. The state has suspended Xpress commuter bus service because of the weather. Gwinnett County Transit has delayed transit service until 10 a.m., when local routes will operate on a Saturday schedule. CobbLinc also has delayed transit service until 10 a.m.

Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing today.

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