CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Texas Department of Roads crews are working to open roads in the Coastal Bend as quickly as they can. Rickey Dailey, the public information officer with TxDOT, said most of the main corridors in Corpus Christi remain closed due to icy conditions.
Crews are working and assessing the JFK Causeway and Harbor Bridge, but Dailey does not expect those to be opened on Monday. Crews are spreading de-icing agents on the Nueces River Bridge, on I-37 at Labonte Park, and on US-77 all the way from Refugio to Kingsville. US-77 currently remains opened, but it is a mix of main lanes and frontage roads.
The TxDOT crews are spreading a de-icing agent mixed with ice rock on the roads. The de-icing agent helps break the bond between the ice and road, while the ice rock helps with traction.
First and foremost, Dailey said TxDOT crews need to make sure road conditions are safe enough for crews to travel before they can start working on them to open to the public.
“First we need to assess the road conditions, to see if it’s safe for our crews to get out there. At different points over the night, it just overpowered us, and we had to pull our crews off. Our dump trucks that had the de-icing agent were sliding, and that’s not safe,” he said.
Dailey said it is unclear when major roads in the area will be reopened, and it depends on what weather conditions develop. However, he did say as temperatures warm up, the ice will melt, but as they drop again, that will re-freeze and turn into black ice, which is dangerous.
“People may see a puddle on the road and think, ‘hey it’s just wet,’ when it’s really frozen. That is a very hazardous condition, and that is why we are still asking people to stay at home and not drive today,” he said.
Outside of Corpus Christi, road conditions are similar. Sheriffs in Aransas, Bee, Duval, Kenedy, Kleberg, Refugio, and San Patricio Counties all report varying degrees of icy roads. Live Oak, Refugio, and San Patricio Counties all had reports of accidents sheriffs were working.
In Aransas County, there weren’t many calls for accidents made to the sheriff’s office, but Sheriff Bill Mills still urged caution to drivers in the area.
“Depending on where you’re at, you see more of it visible, it’s pretty much consistent everywhere. It’s to the point where it’s packed tight enough where if you’re traveling across it, as you approach intersections, get ready to stop, if you’re traveling much over 20 [miles per hour] you will slide through some intersections. We’re asking everybody to use their best judgement, and if they don’t need to be out, please don’t get out,” he said.
The Dale Miller Bridge in Aransas Pass remains open as of Monday afternoon, as does the Port Aransas Ferry. Sheriff Mills said the causeway to Lamar remains icy, but passable, and they are trying to hold off closure of the causeway, to not isolate the people up north.
Sheriff Mills reported power outages across the area, and said there are shelters open in the county; at local fire stations and even some churches in Fulton, and said his crews had transported people to those shelters who were unable to remain in their houses due to the cold.
Dailey wants people to know TxDOT is working hard to get roads in the area opened and safe for travel as quickly as they can.
“The public needs to know that it’s still challenging to get those roads open, even after the ice and rain have stopped falling and freezing. We’re going to make our best efforts, and we’re continuing to make our best efforts. We’re working 24 hours, we’re working in 12-hour shifts, around the clock,” he said.
Both Dailey and Sheriff Mills want people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary while conditions remain the way they are.
“Please stay at home, don’t drive unless you absolutely have to. It’s tricky driving conditions, and we want to see everyone safe,” Dailey said.
“We’re not used to driving in these conditions. There’s an adage I’ve used for a long time: you’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem. If you don’t need to be out, you’re going to venture into part of the problem area. We would ask that everybody remain where they’re at as long as they can hold out,” Sheriff Mills said.
For the most up-to-date information on road conditions and closures, check out the TxDOT road conditions map. TxDOT also has traffic cameras available to view road conditions, though some may not be operational due to the cold weather.