Freezing rain and sleet are in the Wednesday forecast, and officials are expecting road conditions to get worse before they get better.
Fort Worth and Tarrant County roads are becoming slicker as low temperatures stick around, city officials said in a press conference Tuesday. Driving will continue to be hazardous through Wednesday morning, said Kyle Clay, a Fort Worth Fire Department spokesperson.
“We expect conditions to worsen as the temps will remain below freezing, resulting in ice accumulation affecting infrastructure (such as) power lines and tree limbs,” Clay said. “Travel is not advised and, if you’re able, please stay at home.”
More freezing rain and below-freezing temperatures are expected through Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Fort Worth road crews have treated 827 locations as of 6 p.m. Jan. 31. Crews have spread 360 tons of salt and sand mixture, materials costing the city a total of about $47,500 to treat roads, according to Kevin Neal, a communications specialist with the city of Fort Worth.
Road crews were not immune to slick conditions. About 3:30 a.m on Jan. 31 at Serenity Hill Drive, a transportation and public works truck was damaged in a rollover. Two people were in the truck, and no one was injured.
The city currently has 13 trucks out treating roads. Transportation and public works employees have worked 12-hour shifts since 9:30 a.m. Jan. 30.
TEXpress lanes are closed until further notice, Bethany Kurtz, a spokesperson for TxDOT, said in a statement.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the city had responded to 225 weather-related incidents; 167 were related to vehicles. There were no reported fatalities related to the weather, Joshua Johnson, a public information officer with the Fort Worth Police Department, said.
“It’s extremely important right now for emergency situations to call 911,” Johnson said. “But if it’s a non-emergency situation, as if you’re just a stranded motorist on the side of a roadway, and you’re not in any immediate harm, you can call our non-emergency number.”
The non-emergency number is 817-392-4222, or residents may call the number that is on the back of Texas drivers licenses, 1-800-525-5555.
The city is prioritizing the bridges and overpasses that receive the most traffic. After that, crews will focus on hills. Finally, in coordination with Fort Worth’s joint emergency operation command, crews will treat the entrances to hospitals and warming centers.
The joint emergency operation command helps the city coordinate its response to emergencies between different city departments, such as the city’s water department, fire, police and road crews.
In collaboration with the Texas Department of Transportation, crews will monitor and sand 222 bridges and 67 hills around the city. Crews do not treat neighborhood streets or even major thoroughfares such as Camp Bowie Boulevard or Rosedale Street.
The city’s transportation and public works department made several changes to their road preparation after the deadly February 2021 winter storm. After sand froze in the trucks before it could make its way onto the roads, the city increased the percentage of salt that crews use in their sanding solution from 5% to 10%. The sand allows cars to have more traction while driving and the salt keeps the sand from freezing once it’s on the ground.
Transportation and public works also improved communications by purchasing radios, adding training and changing the way the city treats hills. Now you’ll see trucks going up hills backward so they have something to adhere to.
Texas Department of Transportation recommends delaying travel
Crews began pre-treating 8,936 miles of highway in the Fort Worth District with a brine solution last week, Kurtz said in a statement.
TexPress lanes were closed Monday by North Tarrant Express Mobility Partners indefinitely. The organization will continue to monitor the weather and work to reopen the lanes.
TxDOT was roundly criticized for its preparation during extreme storms after a pileup in a TEXPress lane on Interstate 35W led to six deaths and dozens of injuries during the February 2021 winter storm. In 2022, the company that operates the toll roads where the crash occurred closed them in the event of severe weather.
“The nine-county TxDOT Fort Worth District is continuing our work around the clock to address roads, bridges and elevated structures as winter weather continues today, likely further deteriorating travel conditions across the region,” Kurtz said in a statement.
If residents can, they should avoid or delay travel. If residents must travel they should stay alert to worsening weather conditions. Road conditions are updated on drivetexas.org. A 24-hour hotline, at 800-452-9292 is also available for travelers to check road conditions.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.