Driving on Wednesday

Motorists drive in the snow near the underpass at South Loop 288 and Interstate 35E on Wednesday.

Editor’s note: This article is available free of charge for all readers as part of the Denton Record-Chronicle’s continued coverage of the ongoing weather and power crisis. To support critical journalism such as this, please consider a digital subscription.

Road crews across Denton County were aided by the simple nature of the type of snow the county received.

Relatively powdery snow meant easier driving conditions, which ultimately likely led to fewer crashes and stranded motorists.

“Luckily, it’s a good powder snow base … which has really made the traction in our residential neighborhoods pretty good,” said Jody Gonzalez, who is the Denton County Emergency Services director.

Additionally, higher-traffic areas he’d seen were fairly worn down back to the pavement due to cars driving.

He said some of the slipperiest places were at traffic stops and intersections where drivers have to idle for even short periods of time.

“Their cars are draining water off and it's melting the snow,” Gonzalez said.

That water then refreezes, resulting in slick spots.

Daniel Kremer, deputy director of operations for the Denton Public Works Department, said intersections within city limits were some of the trickiest spots. He said vehicles driving through were tending to pack snow down, making it harder.

He said three shifts of roughly 15 crew members each had been running around the clock to sand streets since midnight Sunday. Workers were applying a de-icer called MeltDown 20 to bridges and overpasses.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Kremer estimated the city had put down at least 150 tons of sand and roughly 600 pounds of MeltDown 20.

“Monday afternoon we started out with the blade trying to clear some of the snow off the streets,” he said Wednesday evening.

He said workers had also hooked a plow up to one of the five dump trucks in use.

Gonzalez said his crews hadn’t had any weather-related traffic jams to speak of. He said they’d had strategically placed equipment across the county in the event stranded motorists needed their help, but that thankfully hadn’t been an issue.

Without access to more equipment, “salting and sanding is mostly what we can do,” Gonzalez said.

The Texas Department of Transportation’s online road condition map showed every TxDoT-managed road in and around Denton as impacted by snow. As of Wednesday afternoon, it listed Thursday as the expected end time for ice and snow hazards.

Kremer said Denton crews had been assisting TxDoT to clear some of its roads. He said TxDoT was primarily focused on Loop 288, U.S. Highway 377 and Interstate 35, leaving the rest of the state-maintained roads within the city up to city crews.

He said somebody has been manning the phones whenever they have power.

Even though the city has backup generators, “the city is still dealing with rolling blackouts, too,” he said.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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