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Winter weather puts strain on roads

LAWRENCEVILLE -- This winter has been the roughest on Gwinnett County roads in years, officials said.

Calls for complaints about potholes have increased this winter, Transportation Director Brian Allen said.

"(County infrastructure) has taken more of a beating than we have in previous years," Allen said.

The wet weather, coming off floods this fall that led to emergency repairs on many bridges, has caused most of the problems, although Allen noted that the freezing and thawing of ice because of low temperatures also causes cracks to grow.

While officials have not released numbers about the increase, Allen said officials do not believe the situation has grown to a point where the needs could eclipse the county's budget target.

"We've been fortunate it hasn't been worse," he said, explaining that DOT crews worked overtime a week ago when several inches of snow fell on the county, but because of warm temperatures the next day, the need for snow plows and sand was over a day later.

The county is also running low on a mixture of sand, salt and gravel used to melt ice, Allen said. One or two more winter storms, he said, "could put us in a bind."

While ice and rain do not come often in Georgia, Allen said that the situation seems worse because of the recent drought.

"It's kind of a typical winter, although we haven't had a typical winter in six to eight years," he said. "It's definitely been a more challenging winter ... and it's not over yet. We could still have another storm or two come down on us."