by Victor Lopez
ODESSA - Road crews are on standby to help make sure drivers get where they need to be and do it safely.
If you were out and about at all on Monday, no doubt you saw or felt the occasional drop of freezing rain or sleet. Luckily it melted as it hit the ground. But that won't be the case as it gets colder. That wet stuff will turn into ice. Combine that with bridges and roadways and you've got a perfect recipe for hazardous driving conditions.
Jesse Gutierrez, Area Supervisor for TXDOTD's Odessa District says, when it comes to cold winter weather, their mission is simple, get ready for it in advance, then stick with it until it's over, "Once the storm hits and there's an accumulation of snow, ice or whatever it may be, then we start treating it. It's an ongoing process. You don't treat it once and walk away from it. It's ongoing. That means we'll keep people around the clock, however long that's necessary."
Road crews have their priority points, where they'll be spraying either a salt and gravel mix or de-icer.
"Every bridge on the Interstate, East Loop, West Loop and 385, that's it. If there's an accident or an incident, then we'll respond appropriately but basically just bridges and overpasses," Gutierrez explained.
But what about inside city limits? The Cities of Midland and Odessa have got plans in place too.
"Tuesday morning and Wednesday morning, crews will be monitoring the streets. If they determine they need to be de-iced, they will go out at that time and de-ice the major thoroughfares and any other problem areas that are reported," Andrea Goodson, with the City of Odessa, said.
Depending on where you live, snow and ice accumulations could range from 1 to 3 or possibly 6 inches. Gutierrez says in the rare event we get more, TXDOT has a plan in place for that too, "It's going to have to take a lot of snow for me to put a maintainer out there to open up a roadway. Normally, the storm comes and it goes. We've been very lucky over the years. We don't have need for that kind of equipment, but I do have a loader and a maintainer, just in case."
City officials and TXDOT agree, it's all about prevention.
Goodson recommends, "Go slow, be careful, leave your house early to get to work or school on time. Just be very cautious and very careful. Take a little extra time in getting out and about."