TxDOT, officials respond to criticism from ice storm response

By: Steven Powell Email
By: Steven Powell Email

GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- One week after the storm, ice still remains on some parts of the highway. And officials blame the ice for Thursday morning's fatal accident in Sherman.

Many residents have criticized TxDOT, wondering why it took four days for major highways to at least be cleared enough to safely drive.

TxDOT stands by their response to the situation. But officials say they didn't have the equipment necessary to fully handle it.

State Rep. Larry Phillips, House Transportation Committee chair, said most of the equipment Grayson County needed were in other parts of the state when the storm hit, since the storm covered a large portion of north Texas.

"They were kinda being held there to make sure they took care of their issues, and then they started being fed here," Phillips said.

The area received thicker ice than they expected, which added to the problem, Phillips said.

"We had blades, but some of those blades didn't affect this type of ice," he said.

Once the freezing rain started to fall and compact on roadways,18-wheeler trucks started to get stuck - which Phillips said made it difficult to plow the highways.

"How do we work it to where we have the heavy tow trucks, that can actually tow those 18-wheelers over the bridge or down the bridge, or out of the way?" he said.

TxDOT area engineer Aaron Bloom told News 12 he can't comment on the agency's immediate response to the storm. But he said right now they're working to keep the roads thawed.

"Yesterday we mainly hit every roadway, got them pretty well cleared off. Today was running some maintenance to see anything that refroze overnight, trying to address those hot issues," he said.

Phillips said they're assessing the response at the state level and plan to make changes to be better prepared next time.

"I'm gonna hold TxDOT accountable," he said. "What do we do? I'm gonna talk to the local officials, talk to the community, say 'what do we need to do better?'"

He anticipates that fix will require some difficult conversations.

"Do we have enough assets? Are people willing to pay more for the assets and make sure that they're in place, knowing that that money is gonna be taken from less road construction," he said.

Bloom said he can't remember an ice storm of this magnitude in north Texas.

Phillips said it's a learning experience - for everyone.

"I think that they'll do a better job next time," Phillips said.

Bloom said as the ice thaws, they're finding storm related damage along roadways. The next step is repairing potholes, road signs and guard rails.


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