DOTD claims strategic improvements lead to good road conditions

DOTD claims strategic improvements lead to good road conditions
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POSTED: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 6:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, January 30, 2014 - 10:10am

Drivers had a much easier time getting home Tuesday night when Interstate 10 and Interstate 12 reopened following the ice storm that gripped the area.

"We've made a lot of improvement," said DOTD spokesman Rodney Mallett. "Our guys worked 24 hours, all night long (Tuesday) night to get to this situation, so we have seen a lot of progress."

The state tried to fix some of the problems it had during last week's ice storm, when major roads were slow to reopen. To get supplies faster, they spent more time talking to their teams up north, because they see ice more often than we do.

"They knew, they were prepared, once the front came through, to start moving in and move the equipment down here," Mallett said.

DOTD crews also focused more of their attention on a handful of key roads, major thoroughfares that did not freeze over as much last week. The old Mississippi River Bridge, for example, stayed partially open all throughout the storm.

"We kept traffic moving," Mallett noted. "Although, because of the weather, some of it was moving slowly, it was still moving."

Mallett gave NBC33 a driving tour of I-12 Wednesday afternoon while it was still closed. Workers used deicing trucks to melt away the last frozen patches, but the majority of the road was dry, and at no time during the tour, which spanned nearly 20 miles between Baton Rouge and Livingston, did the roadway feel unsafe. But the interstate would not reopen for another three hours.

"It's gonna get below freezing again (Wednesday night)," Mallett stated. "Driving can be hazardous. Anything that's wet, such as the [Amite River] bridge back here, will freeze, and driving over ice can be dangerous."

A small stretch of I-12, between Airline Highway and O'Neal Lane, opened first, and then all the barricades came down a little later. But the danger is not completely gone. Given the cold temperatures we experienced last night, roads that were fine may have iced over again.

"That's always a possibility," Mallett said of potentially shutting down roads on Thursday. "If we open something up because it's safe, then it's safe, and if we close it, it's because it's deemed unsafe at that time."

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