Wintry weather highlights potential delays in TxDOT projects

January 6, 2019 2:51 am

Wintry weather highlights potential delays in TxDOT projects

ICY ROAD ABILENE_1546477067789.jpg.jpg Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

An icy highway in Abilene, Texas on Jan. 2, 2019. (Nexstar Photo)  [ +  – ]

An icy highway in Abilene, Texas on Jan. 2, 2019. (Nexstar Photo)  [ +  – ]

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The wide range of winter weather conditions facing broad sections of the Lone Star State means more than just a bad time on the roads for drivers. Leaders at the Texas Department of Transportation are also keeping tabs on how conditions affect construction and maintenance projects around the state.

“We are sitting here dealing with snow and ice, freezing fog across broad ranges of North, Central, and West Texas and then as you go into the southeastern part of the state, Houston, and Beaumont, we are dealing with rain and potential flooding conditions,” TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams said. While agency leaders closely monitor weather conditions in the short-term for drivers, they also track the longer-term forecast to plan for future projects.

Williams emphasized the agency works to minimize the disruption on drivers.

“We work very hard to build in those seasonal impacts to those projects,” he stated. Williams mentioned snow and rain slows or stops work altogether on the long-term projects- which TxDOT plans for- building in extra days and dollars into work contracts.

“Our earthwork and our bridgework, those are going to need to occur when we have dry weather,” he said. “Our paving work, that needs to occur when you have warm weather.”

“When our engineers are working with our construction personnel to plan out work, they take into consideration the seasonal changes that we can expect, and build that into the contract time that our construction contractors are afforded on our jobs,” Williams added.

The agency also partners with officials in local cities and counties, as well as government forecasters, who predict a wetter than normal and warmer than normal long-term outlook.

“Emergency first responders, police, law enforcement, fire, those individuals often get involved in the planning process for projects and the prioritization process for projects,” Williams explained.

Williams also mentioned changes in community infrastructure can impact roadway conditions.

“We’ve got bridges and culverts that were planned 30 years ago for natural runoff that now is a subdivision shopping center, so that affects what we see as well too,” he explained.

Williams said fall flooding delayed projects in Central Texas but crews elsewhere in the state saw minimal delays.

Other agencies have similar plans in place for short-term and long-term weather concerns.

“Every Texas State Park has an emergency management plan that gets put into action when significant weather is forecasted (sic),” Texas Parks and Wildlife spokesperson Stephanie Salinas Garcia said.

Each of Texas Parks and Wildlife’s divisions (law enforcement, wildlife, infrastructure, state parks, fisheries) monitor weather forecasts differently to plan for projects, she said.


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