The freezing temperatures Tuesday morning – the second freeze of the week – are a good indication that the cold bite of winter has arrived in North Texas.
For months, the Texas Department of Transportation has wasted no time in preparing for the winter season. The department opened its maintenance yard doors to NBC 5 Tuesday to get a sneak peek.
“Preparation for the winter weather season starts while it’s still hot,” said Val Lopez, a representative for TxDOT Fort Worth District. “In the fall, we re-order materials, calibrate equipment, service equipment and train up our personnel for winter weather procedures.”
TxDOT has literal tons of magnesium chloride – the main component of the de-icing process – stockpiled in maintenance yards in Dallas and Fort Worth, as well as other strategic areas throughout North Texas.
“Currently, our stockpiles amount to about 33,000 tons of material,” Lopez said. “That’s not including the many thousands of gallons of brine that we have in storage that we can quickly mobilize and spray the roadways. That is certainly enough for a multi-day event and we always restock after each event to make sure we’re ready for the very next one.”
Their biggest concern this season is not so much snow but ice.
TxDOT has snowplows on hand but the main focus is on spray trucks that carry gallons of brine, the salt and water mixture that lowers the freezing point of water. It's used to pretreat roads before any precipitation falls to prevent ice from bonding onto the roadways.
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TxDOT also has routes planned out in advance for sanding and de-icing roads, which Lopez said focuses on problem bridges and overpasses.
"They're all tools in the tool box that personnel can use to address the situation," he said.
Texas weather is famous for being unpredictable. With a chance for rain on Wednesday and another dip into freezing temperatures early Thursday, TxDOT said it will be keeping a very close on the weather this week.