State and local crews get roadways ready for big freeze

Published: Dec. 22, 2022 at 12:40 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2022 at 10:23 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Crews in Georgia and South Carolina sprayed major roadways with a salt solution to keep residual water from freezing when temperatures drop, and Columbia County crews got out Friday morning to put salt on bridges.

Columbia County officials said they expected to have the salting done by about 9 a.m., and they urged caution when driving in subfreezing conditions this weekend that have prompted a First Alert from the News 12 team.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said Friday morning that its efforts to proactively treat interstates and state highways earlier had resulted in mostly dry and passable road conditions.

The agency said crews were patrolling routes and treating any icy patches as they were found.

State crews had spent Thursday pretreating interstates and state highways with a salt solution, and they planned to pretreat the roadways at least once more.

Interstate 20, which runs right through the CSRA, is one of their top priorities.

“Statewide, we store about 1.8 million gallons of brine at a time, and that’s about a 1.8 million increase from 2014 when we had Snowmageddon, we didn’t use brine. So you can see, in almost a decade, we have really ramped up our brine capabilities,” said Natalie Dale of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Stay up to date on winter weather by downloading the WRDW Weather App on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Once the subfreezing conditions arrive, GDOT will be using sensors on the roads to detect black ice so that they can know exactly where it is and break it up. Crews also have a special solution to spread in areas where a lot of ice sticks to get rid of it.


AAA is ramping up its roster of crew members. The roadside assistance company says they’ve already seen an increase in customers visiting their service centers ahead of the Holiday Freeze. Car batteries are getting a once over, along with a check of key fluids that keep our car engines running smoothly in the cold.

Like GDOT, AAA recommends avoiding travel altogether, but if you have to brave the elements, take it slow. And if you have the misfortune of breaking down, stay visible.

“Make sure you have your hazard lights on. Just make sure someone is able to see you. That’s one of the most important things you want to do,” said Marion Brown, AAA.

Crews were treating roadways across the region even before them temperature dropped. Here's a look at the process.

In addition to all of I-20, other priorities include I-85 and I-75 north of metro Atlanta, I-75 south of metro Atlanta to Macon, and I-85 south of Atlanta to Columbus.

An estimated 635,000 gallons of brine will be used.

Brine trucks must travel 40 mph to properly apply the treatment. Pay attention and stay back at least 100 feet.

Across the river

On Thursday, South Carolina’s governor urged residents to prepare for cold weather. The state is forecast to have its coldest Christmas since 1983. Temperatures are predicted to drop to dangerously cold levels over the holiday weekend.

Henry McMaster said, “A significant cold front will be moving into South Carolina starting Friday morning. Make sure you are prepared, check on your loved ones, and stay up to date by following @SCEMD and other official sources for best practices.”

South Carolina Department of Transportation workers were out Wednesday pretreating roads and bridges to prevent the possible buildup of ice or snow.

Ginny Jones explains how the South Carolina Department of Transportation is dealing with a subfreezing forecast.

The agency said it’s continually monitoring weather conditions, and workers in each county of South Carolina are prepared to follow a designated plan in case of winter weather.

Motorists are urged to use caution while driving, especially during increased holiday traffic. Motorists should avoid travel during winter weather events. Snow and ice can be hazardous. If travel is essential, motorists should use extreme caution, reduce speeds and stay clear of road crews performing clearing and de-icing operations.

In case of emergency, motorists should call *47.

In the event of winter weather, refer to, or @SCDOTPress on Twitter for the latest information.