Recent winter storm calls for round-the-clock TxDOT response
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Recent winter storm calls for round-the-clock TxDOT response

Feb. 15, 2024

By Laura Butterbrodt

AUSTIN—It’s not every day during a Texas winter that most of the state hits freezing temperatures. But when it does happen, TxDOT crews go above and beyond to keep the roads clear and safe during winter weather.

TxDOT crews across the state are always ready for the next winter storm, and they proved that with the cold snap over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in January 2024.

More than 3,000 employees from all over the state worked together pretreating and monitoring roads amid snow, ice, sleet and extreme cold over several days. It got as cold as 1 degree Fahrenheit in Amarillo, not factoring in wind chills.

Crews applied more than 754,000 gallons of brine – a water and salt solution that keeps ice and snow from bonding to roadways -- to roads across the state in one day during the peak of the weather event.

“A lot of our outstanding employees worked in some incredibly cold temperatures, leaving the warmth of their homes to keep the traveling public safe,” said Matthew Heinze, TxDOT Maintenance Division emergency management coordinator. “Many people worked the night shifts to keep everything up and running overnight. Everyone involved worked more than their normal schedule and worked through the holiday.”

And while the roads were prepped with the brine, other employees took steps to make sure drivers were prepped, too. More than 200 electronic signs along Texas highways displayed safety messages warning drivers to be aware of winter driving conditions.

On social media, TxDOT kept local areas up to date with current conditions, reminding everyone to check and take precautions before driving. Because of the frigid temperatures and winter weather, TxDOT urged drivers to stay home if they could during the storm.

While the winter weather didn’t quite reach every corner of the state, TxDOT’s response did. Crews and equipment from areas that had warmer temperatures moved to help other places that needed a larger response. TxDOT also helped other state agencies and local governments.

“These types of major events are not worked by one individual. It takes a team,” Heinze said.

TxDOT received support, too. The Texas A&M Forest Service had crews and equipment assisting and on standby. The Texas Military sent winter weather teams to help stranded motorists and to be ready in the event of major traffic issues.

There was also a great deal of support from the public and families of crewmembers. Hundreds of Texans responded on social media, thanking TxDOT crews for their hard work.

“So grateful for all the work they do for us to get to work and home each day,” one person commented on Facebook. “Today with snow and icy conditions, the work they have put in for days to get ready certainly paid off. Thank you to all of you.”

TxDOT 2024 winter weather response