Road crews prepare for icy commute Friday morning

By Mark Boyle - Reporter , Cody Schultz - News Producer

HOUSTON - Road crews across the Houston area are preparing for icy conditions from a possible ice storm Friday morning.

The Texas Department of Transportation crews are finalizing preps for possible ice on the roads Thursday night and into Friday morning.

"We work with law enforcement on those issues, but we will shut down things if need be; but the traveling public plays a big role in this -- if you don't need to go out or run that errand, stay home," said Danny Perez with TxDOT.

Magnesium-chloride, a chemical used to prevent ice from forming, has already been sprayed on potential problem spots like bridges and overpasses. Harris County and the five surrounding counties have all been included in the anti-icing process ahead of the storm. TxDOT posted signs Thursday morning warning drivers.

"We have activated our emergency operations center. We're constantly in contact with law enforcement. We have folks out at Transtar and have folks out in different areas of the counties," Perez said.

TxDOT says if there is ice that forms, it also has the ability to dispatch crews with sand trucks to break the ice apart.

There are three main interchanges that TxDOT is worried about: Southwest Freeway and 610 West Loop near the Galleria; the south side of downtown where Highway 288, I-45 and Highway 59 all come together, and in north Houston at the Beltway and the Eastex Freeway north.

The Houston Fire Department says they expect an above-average number of accidents on Friday due to the inclement weather. They urge motorists to stay a safe distance away from emergency personnel working accidents.

On a regular day, HFD responds to about 800 car wrecks.  It expects even more when you add snow and ice.

"Make sure everything is charged up.  We're fortunate that almost all of our stations have shore power, that insures that our vehicles are properly maintained both warm and property charged at all times," said Sr. Capt. Ruy Lozano, with the Houston Fire Department.

All of the emergency managers will focus first on elevated roads, bridges and overpasses.  If they are wet and the temperatures fall, they will see the impact first.

The City of Houston has activated its Emergency Operations Center to assist in the coordination of information and emergency response across multiple agencies. 

The city's Department of Public Works has rock loaded into trucks and ready to be put down on roads once they become icy. The City also expects that the high winds could knock down traffic lights and they urge citizens to call 311 if that happens.

If there are icy conditions on the roadways, METRO says it will operate service as follows:
•Local and Park & Ride buses will operate limited regular service. Weather in some parts of the region, particularly west and northwest, may impact our ability to run service in certain areas.
•METRORail will operate normal service with potential delays; trains will run about every 12 minutes.
•METROLift  will offer only life-sustaining trips such as dialysis and chemo treatments before 9 a.m. Friday. Regular service will resume after 9 a.m., weather permitting.

Due to potential fluctuating schedules, METRO says its T.R.I.P. app will not be the best source of "next bus" arrival time info but we encourage customers to call the customer service line at 713-635-4000. Service alerts will also be at

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Warning from late Thursday night through Friday afternoon. The Houston-area could see freezing rain, sleet and even snow showers before the winter weather moves out.

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