It cost nearly one million dollars to install the technology to keep Lubbock drivers safe during the winter seasons, but in the past 5 years, it has only worked once. The Texas Department of Transportation says the anti-icing system on the Marsha Sharp Freeway flyover was turned off back in 2010, just 2 years after it was put in place.
TxDOT Public Information Officer Dianah Ascencio says the Marsha Sharp flyover at Loop 289 was a 38.7 million dollar project. Out of that total, $800,000 was put toward installing an anti-icing system. The majority of this funding was federal money, with Lubbock City Council approving to contribute around 10-20% of the project's budget.
The anti-icing technology works similar to an irrigation system embedded into the concrete. When the temperature and humidity reach a certain point, the nozzles release a de-icing chemical.
Ascencio says at the time the flyover was being built, it was cutting-edge technology. The flyover was opened on February 29, 2008, and she says the system was working during that winter season.
However, problems started to arise the very next year. "We began to see some corrosion issues on the valves which sprayed the magnesium chloride material onto the roadway," Ascencio said. She said they tried to correct the problem by using a different anti-icing agent but it didn't help. After problems continued to occur, TxDOT decided to shut down the de-icing system in 2010.
"With the safety of the traveling public in mind, TxDOT no longer felt it could safely rely on the system to operate properly," Ascencio said. "The decision was made to turn the system off and have our maintenance crews treat and maintain the bridge during winter weather operations."
So why not fix the problem? Ascencio says the company Quitoxe designed the system using unique parts. That company was bought out a year ago, making it difficult to replace or repair the technology. Ascencio says it would cost at least half a million dollars to make repairs.
"It has been more cost effective for us to turn off the system and have our crews maintain the bridge during winter. We have no plans to replace it at this time," she said.
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