Work crews spent day preparing roads as best they could for winter weather


Posted on January 28, 2014 at 6:18 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

Authorities have closed the Causeway in both directions because of ice and the Department of Transportation and Development is working hard to make sure all the roadways in southeast Louisiana are safe.

Salt and sand can bring the icing stage from 32 degrees to 28 degrees. The roadways have heat coming up from the ground where bridges have cold surrounding them from the top and bottom, so they ice faster.

A dozen-and-a-half crews hit the steel bridge decks this morning with radar guns drawn, reading the temperatures of the roadways, bridges and elevated highways.

"We've seen some ice developing on the hand rails, signs, on the bridges, the grid deck and that's our trigger point to go on and start deicing," said Fred Wetekamm, engineer with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.

When the temperature of the roadways hits 34 or 33 degrees, the crews mobilize. The Department of Transportation began out on the Hwy. 11 bridge using deicing chemicals, salt and sand.

'Especially the metal decks on the bridges, those are icing up first and then the elevated portions over the waterways are icing up next," Wetekamm said.

The Lake Borgne Basin Levee District lent several hands today as well with equipment and manpower in Chalmette.

"We're going to be out here for as long as it takes, or until we run out of materials, until we run out of salt. And after, then we're going to send our guys home so they can stay with their families," said Nick Cali, the Executive Director of the Lake Borgne Basin Levee District.

It was obvious that people listened to authorities and stayed home, avoiding the wet roads. Work crews saw significantly less traffic than during the cold weather last week.

And sources tells us that last week's pile up on the green bridge was because the Department of Transportation was monitoring the National Weather Service forecast and never thought it would get cold enough for ice. But as the actual weather did dip low, they reacted, the source says, in an hour.