After last week’s "#IceofTexas", this week’s trending Twitter hashtag in Houston is “#IceAge2.” What that means is another icy morning commute for Houston drivers. If not two. The icy weather is expected to last until Wednesday.
To prepare for it, the Texas Department of Transportation is again spraying magnesium chloride on bridges and overpasses in the six county-area surrounding Houston.
“And this is a pre-treatment that we do to minimize the freezing due to the water that will accumulate on the roadways during the freeze, with the freezing rain and the sleet and the anticipated snowfall.”
That was TxDoT’s Karen Othon. She says during the freeze, crews will be on standby and spread an aggregate mixture on any icy patches that form on roadways.
For roads maintained by the City of Houston, trucks from the public works department are ready to put chat rock on roads to provide traction once they freeze over. Alvin Wright with public works says drivers still need to use caution.
“Because we spray the bridges doesn’t make them completely acceptable to 100 mile an hour driving. But it does, for the most part, allow access to and from your neighborhoods to be able to go out to the store and get essential materials that you need to survive throughout this entire ordeal.”
Wright asks Houston residents to call 311 to report any road hazards they encounter during the freezing period.
“As a department, we’re ready to go, our equipment is ready to go, our trucks are gassed up and we’re prepared. All we want to do right now is for the citizens to give us a call. Of course, there will be some issues with the roadways in regards to potholes being filled quickly. Let’s get past this transition up here first, and then we can get back to our normal maintenance schedule.”
Karen Othon says although ice is extremely rare in south Texas, TxDoT is prepared for the worst, and she urges residents to have a plan, too.
“And the one thing that we strongly encourage is for drivers to not get out and drive if they don’t have to. If possible, stay home because we are expecting some extreme temperature drops and with the freezing rain and sleet we know there’s going to be ice out there.”
Even those carpooling won’t be able to avoid a bad commute. Metro has announced its HOV and HOT lanes will be closed all day Tuesday.