TxDOT El Paso District maintenance crews are not waiting for the first day of Winter to get ready for those potentially freezing conditions.
The TxDOT El Paso District covers six counties (Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis and Presidio) with 126 roadway maintenance employees, including maintenance support technicians, using 53 snow plows and 10 brine applicator trucks.
Crews have been preparing for the upcoming cold season by meeting with staff, neighboring district and counties; ensuring needed winterizing and treatment material is stock piled; testing and installing all winter equipment; making sure radio communication is in place and coordinating personnel schedules.
“The safety for our employees and the traveling public is our priority,” said TxDOT El Paso District Engineer Tomas Treviño. “We want to be proactive as it is critical to be ready for inclement conditions and it is safer to pretreat roads ahead of the storm.”
Crews winterize roads by applying brine, a salt and water mixture, ahead of freezing temperatures. It is a fast moving operation that has minimal impacts to the traveling public.
Drivers will see a three-vehicle moving convoy with brine treatment signs and should stay away from the trucks. Should drivers get brine on their vehicle, they should rinse the affected area with water.
Teams consider different factors ahead of winterizing roads including moisture, temperature, area of the District being affected, response capability of the affected maintenance sections (which may require mobilization of crews from other parts within the District or neighboring districts) and the National Weather Service forecast.
While all bridges will freeze before the pavement, there are a few locations in the six-county region that are most critical and most challenging for crews to maintain, especially along the 186 miles of the IH-10 corridor.
“The IH-10/IH-20 spilt is a remote area and a long distance for El Paso and Odessa maintenance sections to reach and the Pine Springs, Guadalupe Mountains area is a steep slope that gets very icy due to the high altitudes,” said Treviño.
As always during a winter event, the traveling public should only travel if absolutely necessary.
Due to the size of the TxDOT El Paso District and the allocation of resources, roadways in the six-county area are prioritized during an event with I-10 taking top priority followed by high travel, high population US and state highways in the rural counties that connect area cities to that region’s only hospital in Alpine.
Maintenance crews will be conducting calibration activities on equipment November 5 and 6.