SAN ANTONIO – While most San Antonians stayed home from work and school Tuesday due to icy weather, employees with the Texas Department of Transportation were on the job trying to keep roads open and safe.
Freezing rain and sleet on roads, overpasses and bridges can pose a huge problem for commuters, and that's why TxDOT took a proactive approach to keeping highways safe.
"We pretreat the overpasses and bridges. If we see a problem, it will be the elevated surfaces, the bridges. And we pretreat those with a saltwater brine that's designed to lower freezing temperature of water to prevent ice buildup on highways," TxDOT spokesman Josh Donat said.
Inside the Transguide Operations Center, TxDOT employees keep an eye on roads and highways on 20 screens that track and monitor more than 180 cameras around San Antonio. TxDOT employees work with dispatchers from VIA and the San Antonio Police Department to alert them to accidents and other problems.
They all stay in constant contact with their drivers to make sure any accidents are dealt with as quickly as possible, especially during icy weather.
"Once the weather hits, we have patrols that go through monitoring for ice, and we have spray trucks that continue their routes and 30 spray trucks that run through Bexar County alone," Donat said.
When rush hour hit Wednesday morning, there were only two major closures TxDOT was monitoring, including the connecting ramp from Loop 1604 to Highway 281.
"(Highway) 281 is where we are really focusing on today. We got hit pretty hard up there, and those direct connectors got iced over. So, we're over there trying to win them back," Donat said.
The ramps were reopened late Wednesday morning.