Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Austin Prepares for Winter Weather Impacts to Roads, Travel


The Austin Public Works and Austin Transportation departments have mobilized crews to monitor and respond to local streets and bridges ahead of forecasted precipitation and freezing temperatures. This week’s event is not expected to be as impactful as Winter Storm Uri in February 2021, however hard freezes, cold wind chill values and a potential wintry mix of precipitation are all possible beginning Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

Preparing and Monitoring Roads and Bridges
Crews from Public Works will be monitoring street conditions 24 hours a day beginning Thursday, Feb. 3 through Saturday, Feb. 5. Preparations of equipment and supplies began earlier this week as the initial weather forecast was taking shape. These efforts include loading dolomite—which is a rocky sand mixture—into trucks with spreaders that will treat icy bridges and key roadways as needed. Crews will be proactively inspecting roadways and bridges/elevated surfaces, including taking surface temperatures.

Public Works' crews will also be available to respond to winter weather-related 3-1-1 requests, including removing tree limbs or debris blocking the right-of-way and ensuring access for emergency service vehicles along Austin’s roadways.
 
Travel and Preparedness Tips
The Austin Transportation Department is also monitoring streets and signal operations through the Mobility Management Center. ATD advises residents to avoid traveling, if possible, during inclement weather conditions, and to take steps to travel safely if you do have to be on the roads. Go to ReadyCentralTexas.org to get tips on how you can follow four steps to get better prepared.

Steps you can take to travel safely include: drive slowly, avoid elevated areas such as bridges and overpasses, allow for more time at stoplights, increase your following distance to 5 to 6 seconds, refrain from sudden braking or accelerating, be extra vigilant when looking for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable individuals, and never text while driving.

Keep in mind that sidewalks can also become slick with freezing precipitation which can be hard to see. Use caution when walking on sidewalks to avoid a dangerous fall. There doesn't have to be ice on the road for there to be ice patches on sidewalks.  
  
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. 

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