AUSTIN (KXAN) — Nine months after snow, ice and freezing temperatures paralyzed the Austin area and trapped residents in their homes, the Texas Department of Transportation shared how it’s more prepared for the upcoming winter weather season.
Representatives from TxDOT’s Austin District held a news conference Thursday to “demonstrate equipment” and “discuss its deployment plans” should severe weather threaten the area again in the coming months.
Tucker Ferguson, the district engineer, explained TxDOT secured about 144,000 gallons of salt brine and more than 1,200 tons of magnesium chloride this year — two products that are used to treat roads. Both amounts are an increase over what the district’s offices in an 11-county area had on tap during last winter.
Ferguson also said the district now has 16 motor graters, increasing that supply from 12 last season. These pieces of equipment can be outfitted with an attachment to more easily clear snow from the roads. However, there are still no snow plows in the district’s fleet, but discussions happened about possibly purchasing them after February’s lengthy winter storms.
“It’s so seldom used here in the Austin district. It really didn’t make any sense” to buy those, Ferguson said.
The agency said it has not hired additional staff ahead of this winter but currently has 270 crew members able to work alternating shifts around the clock to monitor and treat roadways during weather events.