TxDOT prepping Austin area roads for forecasted wintry weather

Crews from TxDOT and local public works are out monitoring road conditions around the clock—with bitter cold and wintry precipitation at our doorstep.

"We always try to be prepared for worst case. We have crews ready starting this evening and we have additional crews on standby to report to work if need be," said Pirouz Moin, Assistant Director of Austin Public Works.

Precipitation is expected to be light, but even a light glaze on a bridge can make conditions hazardous in a hurry—and could impact travel through the day Thursday.

"We know that our elevated structures will tend to ice first. If we get some freezing rain or obviously snow or any kind of icing, that tends to happen on the elevated structures first," said Diann Hodges, Communications Director for TxDOT’s Austin District.

TxDOT crews raced Wednesday to pre-treat major roadways, bridges and overpasses, using brine—a saltwater mix that helps melt frozen precipitation before it can bind to the road.

"If it looks like that, we're starting to see icing. They can go out and reapply the brine, or we actually have a product that we can put down to help with de-icing," said Hodges.

Unlike TxDOT, Austin Public Works crews do not pre-treat city roads, but they will monitor surface temperatures with digital thermometers and keep tabs on icy conditions.

"As soon as they see ice formation on those elevated structures, they will be sanding," said Moin.

Despite all the preparations, officials say most of the crashes they see in icy weather are people just going too fast for the conditions.

"The black ice, as it's called, is very hard to see and recognize until it's too late," said Moin.

So, officials say anticipate that ice, slow down and leave plenty of space—on highways, yes, but especially on back roads.

"We can't be everywhere," said Hodges. "So if you live on a road that isn't heavily traveled and may have a bridge, be mindful that that bridge could freeze."

For a real-time list of road closures from TxDOT, visit drivetexas.org.

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