Catherine Ross, NBC 5 Collin County Reporter
The North Texas Tollway Authority says it's pleased with its response to the ice storm earlier this month, but the NTTA is still taking heat from drivers who say not enough was done to clear the roads.
The North Texas Tollway Authority board of directors paused Wednesday’s scheduled meeting to recognize employees with a round of applause for their clean-up efforts after the brutal ice storm.
The moment of appreciation came after NTTA spent about $1 million dollars on solid de-icing chemicals, staffed 16,000 man hours and dealt with an accident volume 130 percent higher than normal,
“This wasn’t snow, it wasn’t a little bit of ice. It was a major ice storm,” said chairman Kenneth Barr.
Overall, NTTA says it is pleased with its response, specifically that none of its roads were closed due to inclement weather.
Some drivers, who said they drove through Collin, Dallas and Denton counties agree – the roads were passable.
“I think they did really well – they were well prepared and organized going in,” said Hugh Antonson of Dallas.
“For the most part – it was clear the whole way,” added Mark Rogers of Highland Village.
However, the work wasn’t enough to smooth things over with some drivers.
“75 was clear – and that’s a state owned road, but if I’m paying to take your road and it’s taking me twice as long to get to work as it usually does,” said Christopher Gutierrez of Plano.
“This is a private company that owns these roads and they need to make sure they’re keeping their customers safe.”
Gutierrez and others have taken specific issue with the fact that after the peak of the storm, they noticed certain NTTA roads were still operating with only one lane open in each direction.
They question the response time, specifically because the roads are toll-based – meaning, to them, if they’re paying, they should be guaranteed a safer ride.
“That’s where I think some people maybe expected all lanes to be open, but we first and foremost have to have a single lane and get it in the best shape we can,” said NTTA spokesman Michael Rey.
“When you pay for the road, you have a higher expectation still. But our main effort is to get the road safely operational.”
“Safety overrides everything else – whether there’s money involved or not.”
Rey tells NBC5 the authority has restocked its sand and chemical supply and is ready for the next storm, adding that every event is different.