Sugar Land and TxDOT explain why the Southwest Freeway was shut down during freeze

Nick Natario Image
Wednesday, January 17, 2024
Officials explain why Southwest Freeway shutdown during freeze
With many freeways staying open, some want to know why the Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land closed.

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- Sugar Land and state officials explained what caused the Southwest Freeway to close during the freeze while other major roadways remained open.

Driving through Sugar Land wasn't easy as the freeze rolled through. The blinking sign on the Southwest Freeway told drivers the major roadway through the city was shut down.

This is an area that drivers say was terrifying to navigate as ice fell Monday.

"You had a lot of accidents on the way," one driver recalled.

"It was slippery and dangerous on the ramps," another driver said.

Sugar Land officers said they responded to 32 wrecks due to the ice on Monday. That was enough for them to decide to close the freeway. The feeders remained open, but it created big backups.

"I'm surprised about that too because the Channelview bridge wasn't closed, and everybody was driving it," one driver said. "I had a couple of drivers call me and let me know that, 'Hey, we're driving a slippery road. What's going on?'"

When Eyewitness News reached out to TxDOT, who is in charge of maintaining the freeway, about why it may have been worse than others in the area, officials said they pre-treated the roadway on Friday and continued to do so through the weekend. Still, the solution doesn't completely stop ice from forming.

Regarding the decision to close, they say it was Sugar Land's call, whereas other places kept their freeway open. To help keep traffic moving, Sugar Land said its mobility team adjusted lights to help the feeder road.

However, big back-ups were still present. The closure is one that a city spokesperson said they stand by because they believe it prevented more accidents, although it did cause issues for those in the southwest part of the area.

"I left work around 1:30 p.m. and got home around 6 p.m., around 6 in the evening," a driver recalled.

Sugar Land wasn't the only city to close major roadways. In Fort Bend County, Judge K.P. George said Missouri City closed stretches of the Fort Bend County Toll Road.

The good news is if you're traveling home to Fort Bend County Tuesday night, there are very few closures, unlike Monday night.

For updates on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.