Ice causes problems all over Houston area

The 1-10 Eas-610 exchange was shut down for several hours because of the dangerous conditions it posed to drivers
January 27, 2014 5:14:12 PM PST
Ice was impacting a number of roadways around the Houston area Friday. Drivers were advised to stay off the roads, but if they did have to drive, avoid bridges and overpasses.

As of late Friday, Houston TranStar said there was still ice on South Sam Houston Tollway westbound at the IH-45 Gulf Freeway.

Most of the roadways reopened by the evening, but hours ealier, some drivers simply stopped where they were too afraid to venture on.

At the very top of the ramp connecting Beltway 8 to Highway 59 South in southwest Houston, we found a jackknifed big rig.

"I was going backwards at first. I couldn't go no further, I'm just spinning my wheels," stranded driver Marcus Watson said.

Watson says he was making a delivery for work at around 4am Friday when he lost control. He looked out his driver's window to the ground 50 to 70 feet below, not sure if the cement guard rail was going to stop him from going over.

"It's like facing death. On my other side over here, it's just a straight drop -- you don't see nothing," Watson said.

The rig came to a rest just inches from the wall and Watson decided a rest seemed like a good idea.

"I just laid down in my bed and went to sleep, that's all," he said.

Watson wasn't the only one frozen by fear on this overpass. Joyce Robinson also decided it best just to stop where she was.

"Made me kinda nervous. The thing was sliding all over the place," Robinson said.

The freezing temps wreaked havoc on the roads. Highway 59 through Sugar Land was shut down for hours. Traffic diverted to the feeder. The city of Houston says its fire department responded to over 500 calls between midnight and noon. During the same time, its EMS transported nearly 200 people.

Most everybody, even the professionals, agreed on one thing: The ice was tough to see.

"Just snuck up on me. I didn't even realize it was here, snuck up on me," Watson said.

While those folks were stranded, they say EMS crews even stopped to check on them. In that big rig driver's case, no one came to help him move the vehicle for more than six hours.

Even though things are drying out, there are still concerns that still water left on roadways may freeze again tonight.

Elevated structures such as bridges and overpasses are most likely to freeze first. Drivers should use extreme caution when approaching any elevated surface.

TxDOT strongly advises drivers to stay off the roads as much as possible, especially during the morning rush hour. If drivers must be on the road, please remember to:

  • Reduce speed
  • Increase following distance
  • Use extra caution on bridges, ramps, overpasses
  • Stay back at least 200 feet from vehicles treating roadways
  • If you start to slide, ease off the gas pedal or brakes and steer into the direction of the skid
  • Avoid unnecessary travel

For updated information on Texas road conditions, call the TxDOT hotline at 800-452-9292 or visit DriveTexas? online at www.DriveTexas.org. For Houston-specific TxDOT news and information, follow on Twitter @TxDOTHoustonPIO.

METRO local and Park and Ride buses will operate limited regular service. Due to the possibility of fluctuating schedules, the METRO T.R.I.P. app will not be the best source of "next bus" arrival time information. Customers are advised to call METRO's service line at 713-635-4000 or check www.ridemetro.org.

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