AUSTIN (KXAN) — Diann Hodges with the Texas Department of Transportation said Wednesday is “probably one of the worst days” to travel on roads due to freezing rain overnight on top of previous snow and ice.
“Freezing rain is not our friend,” she said. “We need this kind of weather to stop so we can do what we need to do.”
Some of the snow and ice melted off roads Tuesday, and Hodges said crews were able to get lanes on Interstate 35 to the point of being navigable, but the freezing rain reset roads to icy conditions Wednesday morning.
Hodges said TxDOT doesn’t like to close roads because that allows more ice to accumulate, but they work with local law enforcement to help close areas if they have to.
“Any area that would typically close first, avoid those areas,” Hodges said. “Obviously, overpasses and flyovers are a big concern since those stay iced up.”
The Austin Police Department said Wednesday morning these overpasses were closed due to icy conditions:
- 7900 block of S I-35 service road SB
- S I-35 at West Slaughter turnaround
- 7200 block of N I-35 NB
- Metric and Kramer
- Windsor between Lamar and MoPac
If a driver is on the roads and needs help, Hodges said TxDOT is still operating its HERO roadside assistance program but at a decreased capacity. She said they usually have 11 drivers per shift, but now they are operating with about seven per shift.
“Just like everyone else, not all of our drivers have been able to get in,” she said. “We want to keep them safe, as well. They’re out there and available but it might take them some time to get to you.”
Hodges said TxDOT isn’t worrying about stranded cars on the shoulders of roads right now, but rather trying to clear main lanes so people can safely travel.
“Our main goal is to get lanes open so people can drive, so that’s what our crews are doing,” she said.
In the meantime, stay off the roads and let crews do the important work of clearing lanes.
“The roads are slippery and icy, and we’re discouraging any kind of travel right now,” Hodges said.
Temperatures in the area are forecasted to be above freezing for a portion of Wednesday, but when the sun goes down, temperatures will drop below freezing and re-freeze whatever moisture is left behind, potentially making roads slick again Thursday.
There’s also a threat of more frozen precipitation heading to Central Texas on Wednesday night into Thursday morning. The KXAN First Warning Weather team is forecasting that 1-3 inches of snow will fall in the area, but there’s uncertainty as to where it could fall. The heaviest snowfall may stay to the south of Austin, but it could also hit Austin proper.
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