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November 29, 2012

TxDot ready for winter weather - if it ever gets here ;-)

IMG_0262@gdickson

The Texas Department of Transportation is ramping up its preparations for icy weather, even as the Dallas-Fort Worth area prepares for another weekend of gorgeous days with highs in the 80s.

About 30 snow plows are available in the North Texas region, and more can be called in if a storm is severe enough, agency spokesman Val Lopez said.

"If the storm is bad enough, we are able to flex our manpower where it is needed the most," Lopez said.

During the week of the 2010 Super Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, transportation department crews from across the state stayed in the Metroplex for several days, working in shifts to try to keep the roads clear for commuters and hundreds of thousands of tourists. IMG_0265

The agency has a stockpile of liquid magnesium chloride, which can be sprayed on roads as an ice preventative, or used in higher concentration to break up ice that has already formed. The agency uses a truck equipped with hoses and pipes on the front end to spray herbicide in warmer months, and a different set of pipes and nozzles on the rear end to spray magnesium chloride during an ice event.

"It comes out at the same rate, so the difference between pre-treating the roads to prevent ice and de-icing - or removing the ice that's already there - is a matter of how fast you drive," said Vernon Well, a maintenance technician. "For de-icing you drive about 10 miles per hour. For pre-treating you drive about 40 to 45 mph."

The agency also had several large piles of sand, and a sand-salt mixture known as chat, to spread on roads.

IMG_0271Photos: Vernon Wells, Texas Department of Transportation maintenance technician, stands outside his truck waiting to begin a demonstration of how to spread magnesium chloride.

2. A herbicide truck is also equipped with pipes and nozzles to spread liquid magnesium chloride, to remove or prevent the formation of ice on roads.

3. A dump truck is equipped with a sand spreader on its rear end. IMG_0272

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