Fayette students delayed from leaving school as PTC streets iced over

By 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Ga. Highway 74 in Peachtree City was iced over in both lanes as commuters slogged home to be with their families. These folks were lucky they didn't get stranded on the interstate like so many others did Tuesday night. Photo/Rhonda Sue.

Peachtree City was not immune to the weather-related struggles Tuesday, though a police presence on the road helped officials direct sand to where it was most needed to help get folks home as safely as possible.

One of the first roads to close was north Peachtree Parkway from the Lake Kedron boat docks northward. Because it had iced over before school let out, cars were spinning out and unable to make it up hills, police reported.

Compounding the problem was the fact that in a matter of an hour or so, McIntosh High School was to let student drivers go home in the middle of the storm. City crews targeted sand trucks on the parkway to get it reopened again, and the last Fayette student to make it home left school short of 7 p.m., officials said.

School buses across Fayette County were delayed due to the icy conditions despite the earlier-than-normal dismissal times, and some school bus drivers volunteered to do extra routes to help get students home quicker.

Meanwhile in Peachtree City, police on patrol would notify public works of icy spots needing attention, and judging on the radio traffic many folks picked up on the warning to stay home. By Thursday afternoon most roads had returned to normal, though there were still icy patches and one ice-related wreck resulted in a vehicle turning over, police said.

The treacherous road conditions caused school to be cancelled the rest of the week, as there were too many icy spots left in the county as of early Thursday afternoon to make it safe enough to reopen, officials said.

Like everyone in metro Atlanta, those not fortunate enough to boogie out from work early Tuesday reported commutes upwards of three hours, with many stretching to 10 or more as the Interstate system was crippled by the ice. A large number of motorists ended up being stranded: either staying in their cars or walking to shelter elsewhere. With the help of a Facebook page, strangers helped others with food and a place to stay as a number of businesses also pitched in to help those who couldn’t make it home.

Tuesday night, Gov. Nathan Deal bristled at the media, saying the storm was unexpected even though nearly everyone else in metro Atlanta had heard local forecasters and the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City office warn of the pending snow/sleet mix. By Thursday, the governor had apologized and said an investigation would be conducted into the state’s lack of early response to the storm.

Others laid blame beyond the state, questioning why metro school systems would open for class when it was obvious some snow was coming. Metro wide there were reports in other counties of children stranded well into the night on buses, only to be forced to return to schools where they would spend the night.

Finger pointing was also being aimed at metro businesses which could have sent workers home early. And as many have pontificated, there are far too many vehicles in daytime Atlanta to send them home all at once even on a good weather day and expect there to be no traffic jam.

The wintry traffic jam from Tuesday, however, unnecessarily put some peoples’ lives in danger, and there’s little chance that will be forgotten anytime soon.

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