DOT continues battle to clear metro Atlanta roads

A car sits in a ditch along with other abandoned cars after running off the roadway due to a snow storm in Atlanta on Wednesday. (Reuters)

A car sits in a ditch along with other abandoned cars after running off the roadway due to a snow storm in Atlanta on Wednesday. (Reuters)

Many metro Atlantans awoke Wednesday in their cars, after Tuesday’s winter storm caused thousands of people to be stranded in traffic.

Georgia Department of Transportation and other agencies worked overnight to salt and sand the roads, but the snow and other percipitation froze, causing havoc on roads across the state.

Early Wednesday, Gwinnett officials closed Ronald Reagan Parkway due to icy conditions, and Snellville officials said it took more than three hours to clear 100 vehicles stuck on the Ga. Highway 124 hill at the parkway’s entrance.

“This has been a trying night for thousands of Georgians,” DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said. “This storm and the bitter temperatures have caused untold hardships. We are hopeful to return roadways to some level of normalcy today but would encourage the public to remain home, preferably all day if possible. For your own safety, you should refrain from driving at all unless you are faced with a dire emergency.”

DOT officials said the first priority Wednesday is returning stranded motorists home, before clearing abandoned cars and

In Gwinnett, major problem areas included Ga. Highway 141 in Peachtree Corners, portions of U.S. Highway 78 and portions of Interstate 85 near Hamilton Mill Road, which were deemed impassable during the night. Icing also occured on Ga. Highway 316 at Ga. Highway 20 in Lawrenceville, as well as Ga. 20’s bridge over the Chattahoochee River in Sugar Hill, as well as on Buford Highway in Duluth.

Lilburn officials warned that the roads are "iced over and treacherous."

"Major thoroughfares such as Lawrenceville Hwy, Indian Trail Road and Beaver Ruin generally have one lane open and are passable at very low speeds," a Lilburn spokesman said. "Secondary roads generally are a sheet of ice right now."

Gov. Nathan Deal, who declared a state of emergency, closed state offices for Wednesday, and Gwinnett and Buford school systems will be closed, along with Georgia Gwinnett College, Gwinnett Tech and other local schools.

Deal’s office said the National Guard was deployed to send Humvees to move stranded school buses and bring food and water to the students. The State Patrol not only worked to clear wrecks but sent troopers to schools where children remained. No students were reported stranded in Gwinnett.

As of midnight, Gwinnett County firefighters responded to 40 vehicle accidents and 10 fire calls, a spokesman said, not to mention several medical calls. And he added that Gwinnett and city police agencies responded to even more incidents.

Gwinnett Transit express bus service will not run on Wednesday, but if conditions allow, officials plan to begin running local routes 10 and 40 at 10 a.m. and all other local routes at noon.

For a complete list of closings, click HERE.