As much of Texas weathers an arctic cold front, Texas Department of Transportation maintenance crews have traveled from their hometowns to remove snow and ice in the regions hardest hit by winter precipitation.
Operating as “One DOT” allows the department to maximize resources across TxDOT district lines and better manage the risk travelers face when they get on Texas roadways.
In response to winter’s worst, snow and ice, crews from TxDOT’s Brownwood, Atlanta, Amarillo and Childress districts are supporting efforts in the Dallas-Fort Worth region; crews from the Lubbock district are responding to conditions in the Amarillo and Childress districts and crews from the Childress and Paris districts are supporting efforts to clear roadways in the Wichita Falls district.
“TxDOT’s first priority is always safety. Icy roadway conditions are certainly frustrating to motorists, but know that TxDOT employees are out in force, working to improve conditions for travel,” said Amadeo Saenz, TxDOT executive director. “Our employees take pride in their efforts to provide a safe transportation system throughout the state, even if that means time away from family and loved ones as they respond to poor conditions in other areas of the state.”
Roadway icing is expected to continue in several parts of the state over the coming days as precipitation melts and refreezes. TxDOT personnel will continue to spread anti-icing and de-icing materials on major highways, bridges and overpasses in 12-hour shifts until conditions improve.
In early January, crews from TxDOT’s Childress and Amarillo districts helped remove snow and ice from roadways in the Paris and Atlanta districts and during the 2009-2010 winter season, crews from TxDOT’s El Paso district supported snow and ice removal operations in the Amarillo area. TxDOT maintenance crews statewide also routinely train to support coastal regions in the event of tropical storms or hurricanes.
When roadway conditions do turn icy, motorists are advised to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. If they must go out, motorists should drive according to the conditions and consult www.txdot.gov for current roadway condition information and winter weather driving tips. Information on Texas roadway conditions is also available by calling the Texas Road Condition and Travel Information Line, 1-800-452-9292.
When severe ice storms strike in Texas, the power may be out for several days. Take precautions after the storm as you wait for power to be restored. Here are some safety tips:
•Generators and other fuel-powered devices should never be operated inside a home or an enclosed space, such as a garage. Unsafe practices could result in a build-up of deadly carbon monoxide fumes. The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include: headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion. If anyone in your home experiences these symptoms, step outdoors, ventilate the area and dial 9-1-1.
• Report power outages. Turn off electrical appliances that were operating at the time power went off, including your heating system. Leave one light on, so that you will know when service has been restored.
• Power lines weighted with ice may be down or touching other objects, an extremely dangerous situation. Contact with power lines can charge cables, chain link fences and even tree limbs with electricity. Power lines can electrify a fence line throughout an entire neighborhood. Contact your power company for assistance.
• Many people are injured each year by falling tree branches after any kind of severe storm. Ice storms are no exception. Heavy ice can make tree limbs and trees themselves unstable. Be safe. Wait until the thaw and call a tree care specialist.
• Refrain from driving on icy roads. If you must travel, drive slowly and increase your stopping distance. Watch for downed trees and power lines across roads. If power fails, treat all intersections as four-way stops. Pack blankets, water, food items and a phone to take with you.
• Keep a fire extinguisher nearby and be cautious with fire. Keep candle flames at least 3 feet away from cardboard, wood and other combustible objects. Keep candles out of the reach of children and pets and extinguish flames before leaving a room or falling asleep.
Challenges for senior citizens
Winter storms can pose a special challenge to elderly Texans. It’s wise to plan ahead and develop a network of neighbors, friends and relatives who can help in the event that ice, snow and subfreezing temperatures disrupt your area. Make sure there are several people you can call on to help, not just one person. Senior citizens are advised to:
•Make prior arrangements with your physician or check with your oxygen supplier about emergency plans for those on respirators or other electric powered medical equipment.
• Plan now to have electrical backup for medical equipment.
• Develop a back-up communications plan in case landlines are disrupted by having a charged cell phone or a pager.
• Maintain a two-week supply of medications, both prescription and non-prescription.
• Have copies of your medical records, prescriptions and medical supplies readily available.
• Have contact lenses, extra eyeglasses and batteries for hearing aids ready to go.
Include your service animals and pets in your plans.
• Think ahead about neighborhood shelters that can accommodate the needs of seniors and the disabled.
• Plan for transportation in case you need to move to a shelter due to power interruptions or other emergency conditions.
For additional winter weather preparedness information, click on: