TxDOT reviews deicing procedures after I-20 incident

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by LAUREN ZAKALIK

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaalauren

WFAA

Posted on February 12, 2014 at 6:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 12 at 9:01 PM

Icy highway

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TARRANT COUNTY — Conditions along the westbound lanes of Interstate 20 in Forest Hill were bad on Tuesday.

Really bad.

"Cars were sliding and spinning out on the overpasses," said Forest Hill police Capt. Jerry Cozby. "The overpasses were completely frozen over with ice."

When that happens, the Texas Department of Transportation relies, in part, on police to call and let them know.

Cozby said Forest Hill police did just that, at 7:45 a.m. Tuesday.

After 45 minutes — and about a half-dozen accidents in the same spot — a TxDOT sanding truck showed up, but not because of that call from police.

"I believe the comment was there was no record of our call," Cozby said, referring to a TxDOT spokesman who told News 8 on Tuesday that the agency knew nothing about a call from Forest Hill. That comment surprised Cozby.

"I knew we had contacted TxDOT," he said.

On Wednesday, police gave News 8 a recording they say proves that a call for help was made at exactly 7:45 a.m. Tuesday. In the recording, a Forest Hill dispatcher tells TxDOT they need to come out to clear and sand I-20 near Anglin Drive. The voice at the other end of the call said they'd "get on it."

TxDOT has reviewed its records, and spokesman Val Lopez confirmed that the agency did receive the call from Forest Hill, but he said there was confusion about what police needed from TxDOT.

"Regardless, crews responded as soon as possible to treat I-20 in that area again," Lopez said in a statement. "We will further review our call-in procedures and work to improve our operations."

Lopez added: "Dedicated TxDOT crews worked around the clock to keep the roads passable during this winter storm."

TxDOT wouldn't say what exactly happened in this apparent communication breakdown during a time where both TxDOT crews and local police were strapped, trying to keep the roads safe.

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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