The Texas Department of Transportation announced Thursday that its crews are gearing up for potentially icy roadways in the Austin area on New Year's Eve.
As part of preparation, TxDOT said it will begin pre-treating Austin highways after 8 p.m. Thursday, which will help impede ice or snow from sticking to the pavement. Crews will start on Interstate Highway 35 and move on to other major highways in the region.
About a dozen crews will help lay down the deicing agent.
"It's brine, and it's laid down, and then that will dry. And once it's dry, that helps prevent ice and snow from sticking to the ground," said Diann Hodges, a spokesman for TxDOT. "It can last a few days. Obviously, we don't want to treat too far in advance but we feel pretty confident that if we treat this evening that will still be there on Sunday night."
That is unless Central Texas receives more freezing rain than what's expected in the forecast.
TxDOT officials will be watching closely, ready to react.
"We will keep our crews on standby and they will go out again and they will treat as needed, but this is a great first step," Hodges said.
TxDOT said that after pre-treatment, work teams and trucks will be ready to respond to snow and ice situations as the need arises.
The department also offered the following guidelines to help motorists drive carefully:
- Only drive if absolutely necessary.
- Use caution when driving over bridges and overpasses. These are the first to freeze.
- Reduce speed and drive with caution. A vehicle needs at least three times more space to stop on a slick roadway. Do not apply the brakes suddenly, and avoid using cruise control, so that you can respond better if you encounter slippery roads.
- Slow down when approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles, especially when their flashing lights are on. The law requires you to maintain a distance of at least 200 feet when approaching a snow plow, and do not pass on the right. Visibility can also be reduced during winter weather conditions.
- Be patient. Your trip time – including short commutes to work – could increase when adverse weather conditions exist. Also, keep to the main roads and avoid taking shortcuts through territory that may not have been treated.
- Winterize vehicles before traveling during adverse weather. Check fuel, tire, oil and antifreeze levels. Make sure heater, brakes and windshield wipers are working properly.
- Check area weather conditions on radio or television before starting a trip.
For real-time roadway conditions, click here.