As TxDOT Braces for Snow, Drivers Tire of Ice

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    NEWSLETTERS

    North Texas road crews can't keep up with supply and demand to keep Texas roads clear. (Published Thursday, Feb 3, 2011)

    As they prepared for the threat of more winter weather, North Texas highway officials Thursday defended their performance in the storm that has left many roads coated in ice.

    David Finfrock, NBC DFW chief meteorologist, said the snow is expected to be dry and powdery and should blow off the roads without causing major travel problems, he said. (Read the forecast.)

    Can the Roads Get Any Worse?

    [DFW] Can the Roads Get Any Worse?
    North Texas road crews can't keep up with supply and demand to keep Texas roads clear. (Published Thursday, Feb 3, 2011)

    The Texas Department of Transportation brought extra crews with snowplows from Amarillo, which scraped North Texas freeways Wednesday and Thursday.

    "We have our forces spread out pretty much equally," TxDOT spokesman Mark Petit said. "We put the additional forces that came in on the heaviest-traveled roads."

    Petit said TxDOT does not routinely keep snowplows in the Dallas area because they are rarely needed.

    "It's not the wisest use of resources, and because we're one DOT, we can shift those resources if it's needed ahead of time," he said.

    Some drivers say highway officials were unprepared, even with the Super Bowl.

    "I think they neglected some areas," Gerardo Cera said. "I'm glad we don't go through this all the time."

    Kentucky truck driver Shane McStoots said other parts of the country are better equipped for winter weather.

    "At home, they get to it before it gets bad," he said. "The night this started falling, they'd have had it cleaned up by the next morning anywhere else."

    Driver Clark Mitchell said the road crews deserve support for what they've been doing in this very cold weather.

    "I'm satisfied with it," he said. "We were just hard hit, and I think they've done a good job."

    Most Dallas-area freeways were in better condition Thursday, but many icy areas remained on side roads.

    Gilbert Aguilar, Dallas' street director, said that city crews focus their efforts on busy intersections, main thoroughfares, hills and overpasses.

    "We just don’t have the capacity to apply sand in every single lane mile in the city of Dallas,” Aguilar said.

    The city has about 11,500 lane miles of streets, and Aguilar said only about 1,000 are sanded.

    "We don't want to over-apply this sand mixture," he said. "We still have to come back after this event and recollect this stuff, and it will create a dust storm for us."

    The city and state only use a limited amount of road salt mixed with sand because officials say salt is hard on highways and equipment.

    Aguilar said salt would have cleared the ice sooner, but that negatives of the heavy use of salt outweigh the benefits.

    "It's not the most cost effective thing to do, and salt is extremely corrosive, and it’s not a way we want to go," he said.

    Petit said salt tears up steel.

    "We have a lot of steel bridges," he said. "We don't need those deteriorating any faster than they already are. We have some funding crises. We need to preserve our system best we can and salt is not that friendly."

    Instead TxDOT and the city of Dallas use a chemical deicer.

    The state’s supply of MD-20, a magnesium chloride mix, is running low after so much winter weather, but 12 truckloads are on the way to North Texas.

    Both the city and state officials said they are watching the weather carefully with snow forecast for Friday.

    "We're hoping that it doesn't get here, but if it does get here, we are prepared for that," Aguilar said.