Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Crews Monitoring Roads, Bridges as Winter Weather Approaches

Jan 19, 2022 

The Austin Public Works Department (PWD) will be proactively monitoring local streets and right-of-way areas ahead of forecasted precipitation and freezing temperatures. The National Weather Service predicts adverse conditions to begin Thursday through Friday morning.  

Crews from PWD's Street and Bridge Operations (SBO) have mobilized for around-the-clock coverage to ensure the right-of-way (ROW) remains accessible and safe for all users. This includes monitoring elevated surfaces/bridges; treating potentially icy roadways; responding to weather related 3-1-1 requests; and removing any tree limbs or debris blocking the ROW. 

"The safety of the public is the top priority of the Mobility departments of Austin and Public Works’ crews are ready to ensure that public right-of-way is safe for users," said Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca. "Our Mobility departments are working to together along with other front-line, first responding agencies to assure that residents have the infrastructure resources and information they need to stay safe."

With increased overnight coverage, SBO crews will be continually monitoring City streets by conducting both visual inspections and measuring road surface temperatures with digital thermometers. They will also be responding to weather related 3-1-1 reports. They provide regular temperature reports on critical City roadways and bridges. These continual assessments guide PWD in determining the most appropriate safety measures.

"We want our community to know that we are prepared to address our mobility infrastructure," said Pirouz Moin, Assistant Director over Operations for Public Works. "Each weather event is different, and while we do not expect major impacts to our roadways like we saw during Winter Storm Uri, we will still be monitoring and addressing roadways as conditions warrant. This is a normal response for our crews whenever temperatures drop below freezing and precipitation is forecasted." 

Following last year's winter storm, Public Works updated its winter weather emergency plans to reinforce its process for removal of snow from critical roadways, emphasizing the importance of maintaining access to water treatment plans, public safety and emergency services stations, hospitals and other critical locations. During last year's storm, Public Works crews cleared more than 300 lane miles of snow, assisting with the safe access of emergency vehicles and paths to warming shelter and treatment plants.

Over the next 48 hours, PWD will be actively coordinating with the office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Travis County and other local and regional partners to help keep Austin's roadways safe.

The Austin Transportation Department is also advising residents to take steps to travel safely in preparation for this week’s winter weather. Though precipitation is not expected to significantly accumulate on all surfaces, elevated areas such as bridges and overpasses may see ice or snow in the early hours of Friday morning. Anyone traveling during potentially icy conditions are advised to:   

  • Monitor weather conditions before setting out on your trip and avoid traveling, if possible  
  • Avoid elevated roads, such as overpasses and bridges, if possible   
  • Plan additional time for travel, go slowly and turn carefully  
  • Avoid sudden braking or accelerating to maintain traction  
  • Ensure you have packed emergency supplies in your vehicle such as blankets, jumper cables, emergency lights, and a cell phone charger in case of a crash or emergency.  

Residents who need to report traffic light outages, road damage or any other weather-related concerns, may do so by contacting Austin 3-1-1 via phone (dial 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000) or the Austin 311 mobile app. Austin Transportation will be providing updates in case of an emergency on the department’s Facebook and Twitter channels.