Lindsay Wilcox, NBC 5 News
LBJ Freeway maintenance crews work around the clock when rain and ice make the roads hard to navigate.
Despite ongoing construction on the LBJ Express project, the average speed of traffic on Interstate 635 hasn't significantly slowed.
In December 2010, the average speed between Josey Lane and Hillcrest Road was 62.3 mph. One year into construction, in December 2011, it was 59.2 mph.
Much of the construction is done on weekends and overnight, which helps minimize gridlock. But maintenance crews who patrol the freeway 24/7 are also another critical component.
Whether it's clearing debris from in front of moving cars or getting a wrecked vehicle out of the main lanes and onto the shoulder, crews do whatever is needed to get traffic flowing.
Last year, the crews helped 1,700 different drivers, many of them drivers such as Kathleen Wunderlick, who was stranded with a flat tire.
"I was scared to say the least," she said in a thank-you note. "I got on the phone to call for assistance. Before I could get through to anyone for help, Virgil and Steve showed up, changed the tire and made sure I got safely back on the road."
"It makes us feel real good," said Greg Joslin, maintenance supervisor.
"The guys really appreciate it, and it lets them know that they are appreciated," he said.
When one of the worst ice storms in Texas history hit last year, maintenance crews were out spreading deicing mixture and fielding calls from other agencies.
"I won't mention any names, but we had quite a few people asking us where to get this product and our snowplows," Joslin said.
The crews said they know their job minimizing gridlock for drivers comes with serious risks.
"It is very dangerous," Joslin said. "Thousands of vehicles a day travel this road, and we're out there in the middle of it all the time."
Drivers with road problems on LBJ Freeway between Interstate 35E and Central Expressway can report them to the LBJ Express Hotline at 877-525-3979.