Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins blames state lawmakers for going cheap on funding for the Texas Departmetn of Transportation, leading to a issues with TxDOT's response to the recent ice storm.
As North Texas continues to thaw, some people turned up the heat on highway and utility crew response efforts to last week's ice storm.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the county’s top elected official, blamed a lack of resources at the Texas Department of Transportation for the icy bridge conditions that continued to slow traffic and close schools Tuesday.
“When you under-fund, and under-fund, and under-fund transportation, you see problems like this,” Jenkins said. “It’s not because of the men and women of TxDOT. It’s because our legislature will not step up and adequately fund transportation in this state.”
Some drivers, who could not stay home during the hazardous driving conditions, said the amount of “cobblestone ice" that formed on bridges was something they had never experienced before.
Tal Walker has delivered worker uniforms for eight years, including during past ice storms.
“It’s pretty unsafe out there, that cobblestone,” she said. “I’ve never seen that before, ever.”
John Kerr, a gasoline station pump repairman for 30 years, said TxDOT should have paid more attention to the bridges.
“I just don’t think they’re putting the effort in the right place,” Kerr said.
For other North Texans the big problem was power failure.
“It was very cold. Our house was about 40 degrees,” said Dallas resident Duncan Millington.
Millington said the power in his neighborhood, near Abrams Road and Lovers Lane, went out Friday and did not return until Sunday afternoon.
Millington said electric provider Oncor gave residents several incorrect estimates about earlier restoration times.
“One thing led to another and three days later it comes back on,” Millington said.
Jenkins said around 270,000 Oncor customers were without electricity at the height of the outages Friday, but that number quickly went down and neighbors, churches, government and relief agencies helped shelter neighbors who continued shivering with powerless homes.
Jenkins went to a hotel for a time as the outage dragged on at his own home, but he praised Oncor’s response.
“I know it was frustrating to not have power, but they brought in crews from all over the country and they were doing things that were pretty dangerous and they did a good job,” Jenkins said.
Both Oncor and TXDOT officials have defended their performance under these very difficult circumstances.