Crews Prepare for Icy Roads

The weather outlook for Houston is still uncertain. No one knows exactly how much, if any, ice will accumulate on the roadways. But as Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports, crews are hard at work to keep the roads open and safe as possible.

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Houston drivers aren't used to icy road conditions, so the Texas Department of Transportation is taking precautions even though the weather may not be as bad as first predicted. TxDOT Spokesman Norm Wiggington says they're spraying down the highways and bridges with magnesium chloride, a chemical which prevents ice from forming.

"We're going to have people out there on the highways taking a look and watching and monitoring the situation throughout the night. And we'll just make sure that the magnesium chloride is on the roadway, it's working in time. We're putting it now, even as we speak we have crews out there -- trucks out there spraying the roadway."

TxDOT has no plans to close any particular roads or bridges at this time, although Harris County officials are planning closure of the direct connect ramp from the Westpark Tollway Eastbound to the Southwest Freeway Northbound. Wiggington says the winter storm should remind drivers of one thing on the roads tonight:

"Slow down. I mean, that is the most important thing when you consider the inclement weather that will be occuring -- we should always be very cognizant of our travel speed and make sure that we slow down and are traveling at a safe speed for the conditions."

In addition to the preparations by TxDOT crews, the City of Houston and Harris County road crews are also sanding down elevated roads and bridges. The Harris County Emergency Operations Center is activated in advance of the storm. Also the American Red Cross is on standby, preparing to shelter people who may become stranded on the roads. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.

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