TYLER – With the official start of winter approaching, the Texas Department of Transportation Tyler District has been ensuring its crews and equipment are ready for whatever the season brings with it. Crews have spent the last couple of months finalizing the winter weather plan, making sure equipment is ready for use, and that crews are trained and outfitted with the proper winter PPE.

TxDOT is prepared to move from the planning stage to action should winter weather conditions develop in the area. Stuart Withington, TxDOT Director of Maintenance/Emergency Management Coordinator, said winter preparedness is an important part of TxDOT’s priorities.

“Our winter weather plan is quite comprehensive laying out best practices necessary to safely keep roadways open and traffic moving when possible during inclement weather conditions,” said Withington. “The plan includes making sure equipment is repaired, calibrated, and in top working condition. We also ensure we have the necessary materials ordered and stocked, and that all employees have the correct personal protective gear or PPE. “

Withington said crews are prepared to respond to various wintertime conditions including flooding, ice, and snow. This includes pre-treatment of major roadways which allows TxDOT to get ahead of wintry conditions. Operational treatments are continuously evaluated before, during and after a winter storm.

TxDOT’s staff keeps abreast of inclement weather events forecast for the eight-county district and implements necessary measures to reduce impacts on roads and traffic. T o combat ice and snow accumulation, crews pretreat roadways 2-3 days in advance of the event with a brine solution. Brine is a salt and water mixture applied to roadways creating a barrier that helps prevent ice and snow from sticking to the surface. The process utilizes a fast-moving mobile operation to pretreat higher volume state roadways first. It has proven to be a cost-effective and environmentally safer treatment than other anti-icing and de- icing applications allowing TxDOT to more effectively pre-treat roadways.

During a winter weather event, crews work 24/7 monitoring and applying additional treatments to roadways as needed. Highly exposed areas that are susceptible to wind and ice are monitored to keep them passable and safe for travel.

“We prioritize our treatments starting with heavier traveled roadways, including trouble spots like bridge decks, steep grades, sharp curves, intersections, and ramps as well as lower traveled roadways,” said Withington. “Our goal is to provide a safe travel way during winter conditions while keeping traffic delays to a minimum.”

TxDOT also coordinates efforts with local municipalities, law enforcement, and the National Weather Service to have the best available information when preparing for winter storms.

Motorists can also help ensure safe travels during winter conditions. TxDOT offers these helpful driving tips:

Buckle Up! Always wear a seatbelt: Every passenger on every ride. 

Allow extra time to reach your destination accounting for possible travel delays. 

Be patient. Your trip time could increase when adverse weather conditions exist. 

Increase the following distance between you and other vehicles. 

Do not use cruise control or lane assist (a safety feature found on newer model vehicles). 

If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of skid. 

Stay back at least 200 feet from vehicles treating roadways. 

Slow down and move over for emergency vehicles. 

Remain in your vehicle. If stranded, please call 911 to alert emergency services. 

Avoid unnecessary travel if conditions warrant. 

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