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Drivers Grade State & Cities Road Clearing Efforts Poorly

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TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – A CBSDFW.COM poll asked North Texans to rank how well state and local agencies dealt with icy road conditions. Ranking agencies from 1 to 5, with 5 being best, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) and the two biggest cities/counties, Dallas and Fort Worth, all for the lowest scores. Even though the NTTA received a failing grade they performed the best.

Monday morning Fort Worth drivers took it slow on highways and roads. Many said they had to get out of the house to get to work and they were frustrated. “These roads should be cleaned up,” driver Everett Ware said frustrated. “The bridges are horrible.”

Kelly Mitchell echoed the feeling. “It’s been four days they [roads] should be cleared.”

Drivers said thick sheets of ice made getting around tough, both on the highways and in the city.

Former City Councilmember Clyde Picht told CBS 11 News he can relate. “We’re [his family] been pretty much isolated,” he said. “We’re in a far southwest suburban area, where the streets are never sanded.”

Picht also said he’s disappointed with Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s lack of response. “I think the Mayor should be highly visible in cases like this… and at least reassure the people through the news media or social media.”

Picht said city leaders should be letting the public know, “What they’re doing and when they’re going to do it. [And] what people can expect.”

Mayor Price posted a message on the city’s website late Monday afternoon. It said that she kept an eye on “Icemageddon,” in the City’s Emergency Operations Center.

Fort Worth has had 30 trucks out and crews put out more than two thousand tons of sand, in more than 1,000 locations.

So far, city officials estimate that Fort Worth has spent some $180,000 responding to the ice storm. “We’ve had an excellent response,” Mayor Price said. “I think we get better with each experience in handling it.”

TxDOT spokesperson Val Lopez said their agency had 130 pieces of equipment and 200 operators out removing ice.

Despite the claims of road crews being widespread some drivers said they didn’t even see trucks out treating the roads until Monday morning. Lopez said that wasn’t the case. “No one predicted this amount of ice on the roadways. We were out there from the very beginning pretreating and treating.”

Mayor Price said crews did what they could to keep highways and roads clear. “Overall I would give them an ‘A’ I really would. I think they’ve done a very good job,” she said. “Is it perfect? No, but no response to a storm is ever going to be perfect.”

Drivers aren’t as optimistic. “The bridges are horrible,” driver Ware said. When asked to give it a grade he said, “D!”

Former City Councilmember Picht agreed with the low score. “Well, I’m assuming the Mayor got her road sanded… or had someone with 4-wheel drive and chains come and pick her up and take her to City Hall. So it may be an ‘A’ for her, but it would probably be a ‘D’ for those of us who live out here.”

Both the City of Fort Worth and TxDOT say they will evaluate how things are handled. Mayor Price did say that one area where they can always improve on is communication between the different agencies and departments who should be working together.

(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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