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Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 4:43am

Roads, Services Struggle To Return To Normal In Storm's Wake

Icy road conditions in areas of north Georgia continue to be a problem Wednesday at residents and services try to get back to normal.

Precipitation from the winter storm that hit the state earlier in the week has moved out, but behind it are colder temperatures. Those readings blanketed the state Wednesday morning -- generally in the 20’s. And forecasters say overnight Wednesday into Thursday morning will be even colder, with temperatures in the teens for some areas of north Georgia.

For numerous school systems, Wednesday represents a third straight day for students to get the day off.

Workers with the state’s Department of Transportation will continue with another day of 12-hour shifts working the affected roads in north Georgia. Officials say the problems now are focused almost entirely on the metro Atlanta region.

As for other areas of the state, such as extreme north Georgia on the interstate corridors and major highways, the DOT’s Jill Goldberg says things are much better:

“Relatively clear is the best choice of words there. Our north Georgia offices have reported-in, and they do have spots, and they’re getting calls, but it’s primarily passable. They have lanes open on everything and you can get through.”

Cleanup operations for the DOT costs money, and the agency’s David Spear says with Georgia’s three winter storms in the past month-and-a-half, it’s been quickly chewing-up the DOT’s budget for cleanup:

“We’d set aside $10 million for the year. We’re going to be close to having used that up in just the first 5 or 6 weeks of winter.”

But Spear says $10 million is just a number, and the state will do what’s necessary to pay for any more storms that may push through the rest of the season.

Icy roads have impacted service-related industries. Delivery trucks have had trouble getting to grocery stores, and mail delivery has been severely hampered. The United States Postal Service says "things are certainly looking a lot better" for delivery of mail in the north Georgia regioin Wednesday. Michael Miles, USPS spokesman for the Atlanta district, says operations for the early part of the week were challenged:

“Primarily due to problems with simply transporting mail to and fro. We’ve got to get our mail in to the processing plants and then get it dispatched out to our delivery units. And because of the icy roads, transporting mail was a major challenge for us the last couple of days.”

Into extreme north Georgia, Miles says areas with zip codes 305- and 306- posed some of the biggest challenges for postal delivery workers.

The National Weather Service says Wednesday’s high temperatures should range between the mid 20’s to mid 40’s across the state under sunny skies. Tonight will have lows dip between the teens and middle 20’s. Thursday should again by sunny, with highs from the 20’s to 40’s.

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