The upcoming state budget includes $14.5 million to improve Georgia's response to winter weather.
State leaders were criticized after a winter storm in January stranded motorists for hours and paralyzed metro Atlanta. A second storm followed two weeks later.
"We learned a lot of important lessons," said Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal. "We said we were going to change how we do this. This is a piece of evidence that we have kept our word."
Most of the money will go for facilities and equipment. The state plans to buy more plows, build new salt barns and expand the size of current storage facilities. It will also add temperature sensors on roadways.
"We have a particularly dangerous weather event when the snow hits and it turns to ice," said Robinson. "These sensors on the road will help us monitor that temperature drop or temperature rise, both of which are important around that 32 degree mark."
The sensors would alert road crews, who can pretreat highways before they ice up.
"We don't expect to have to spend this money every year and we won't spend this money on winter storms every year because we want to make the best use of taxpayer money," said Natalie Dale, spokeswoman for Georgia's Department of Transportation.
The state said the money earmarked in the upcoming budget is only the first step.
A winter weather task force is still studying ways to improve Georgia's response to snow and ice events. The group includes a cross-section of community members and will issue recommendations in the near future.
"If we bought 100 snow plows, that's not a wise use of taxpayer money because we don't live in a state that uses them that often," said Dale.
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Thursday, March 27 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-03-28 00:56:41 GMT
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