AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) -Keeping roads clear and safe during winter months in the Texas Panhandle requires a bit of science, impeccable timing and a close eye on the weather.
Treatment for roads during winter weather begins before the storm comes in and while the sun is out.
When a weather event is in the forecast, TxDOT is out putting brine on highways and farm to market roads up to 3 days prior.
“We monitor the weather conditions, if we know that it’s going to have that potential for ice, sleet, snow, and we get out there and spread the brine,” said Sonja Gross, Amarillo Texas Department of Transportation public information officer.
Not only can this prevent fatal accidents, but this method can cut costs of maintenance by 90 percent compared to traditional de-icing.
Brine is a solution of salt and water and is five times stronger than sea water, because the salt is dissolved, there are no salt particles to bounce onto cars or roadside vegetation.
“What you see behind me, under the tent is a sand mixture. Basically what it contains is sand that you find at a beach, volcanic ash, gravel and we make a nice mixture of it." said Gross. "And then the dump trucks of course go down there and they have spreaders attached on them and they will first cover those bridges and overpasses. What that does will create a layer that gives you traction.”
Gross says just because they have taken these safety measures, doesn’t mean you are home free as a driver and to slow down and stay cautious.
“Well, a glaze of ice is the most dangerous hazard we face on the roadway, so some aspects that help that is the pretreatment," said Chief Meterologist Dave Oliver. "It’s going to be awhile since they pretreated those roads, we’ve had a lot of moisture on them, it could still freeze, it could still have ice, it could be dangerous, so we have to be alert.”
TxDOT continues to remind everyone, that although they pretreated and are monitoring the highways, you are not in the clear, so slow down out there.