PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

January 24, 2014

Deep freeze — icy conditions affect travel, school

Southeast Texans awoke to a deep freeze as bridges were shut down and travel along major thoroughfares brought to a snail’s pace Friday morning.

A number of highly traveled local bridges remained closed by 5 p.m. Friday including the Intracoastal Canal Bridge, Causeway Bridge on Pleasure Island, Martin Luther King Bridge to Pleasure Island, Veteran’s Memorial Bridge and the Rainbow Bridge. The Purple Heart/Neches River Bridge was closed intermittently throughout the day.

The City of Pot Arthur saw a number of issues due to the weather. All non-essential personnel who reported to work on Friday were released at specified times and emergency services such as police and fire worked longer shifts due to inclement weather.

Mass transit operations in the city were suspended for fixed routes for the entire day. The transit’s emergency and handicapped division was set to accommodate on a  case by case basis, according to a press release from Port Arthur City Manager Floyd Johnson.

Police and fire protection was provided to Sabine Pass and Pleasure Island with the placement of personnel specifically at those two locations.

Port Arthur Police Maj. John Owens, who is the city’s emergency management coordinator, said the icy conditions caused multiple traffic accidents.

 “From 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. we saw approximately 50 traffic accidents,” Owens said.

A number of roadways in the city were closed including the cloverleaf at Texas 73 and U.S. 69 and a portion of Ninth Avenue. Ice has accumulated on the bridge near the Drainage District 7 canal by the Port Arthur Public Library as well as the bridge over a canal on Ninth Avenue near Jimmy Johnson Boulevard.

“We are asking citizens to stay off the roadways until the hazardous conditions subside,” Owens said. “Some areas are impassable due to icing conditions.”

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Stephanie Davis said troopers had been working traffic accidents all day on Friday with the first call coming in around 1 a.m.

Schools

Local school districts did not report any transportation problems.

Nederland ISD did not delay their school start times as did surrounding districts.

“The day went very well,” Charlie Polk, NISD transportation supervisor, said. “The bus rider numbers were a little down which is understandable with the weather.”

Port Neches-Groves ISD delayed its start time for two hours and did not report any transportation issues according to information from the administration office.

Port Arthur ISD delayed its opening for three hours and had a “great day” Superintendent Mark Porterie said.

“The day went great. Of course we give kudos to the parents who allowed their children to come to school today and to our staff members who traveled near and far to come,” Porterie said. “We made the decision to have school because we didn’t want to have the students waiting in the cold and not have the bus pass.”

Another reason the district decided to stay open was in consideration of parents who may not have had time to establish day care for their children and as a way to offer students a meal.

Beaumont

Traffic was brought to a near stand-still in portions of Beaumont due to icy conditions on overpasses. By 4:30 p.m. traffic along I-10 began to flow slowly, according to a press release from Beaumont Emergency Management Office.

Eastex Freeway was reopened Friday afternoon while crews worked on the overpasses on Cardinal Drive.

All Beaumont City offices remained closed on Friday due to the icy conditions with plans to reopen on Monday.

Jefferson County

County Judge Jeff Branick made the decision to close all County offices following the 10:30 a.m. call with the National Weather Service when officials learned temperatures would likely remain below freezing all day. He also received information from Texas Department of Public Safety regarding a number of accidents.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

 

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