"Four hours sitting in one spot not moving was scary for me," one driver said
A father and daughter were among the thousands of drivers who got stuck on a Texas tollway for hours amid icy conditions on Monday.
Brent Hess was headed to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport to drop his daughter Courtney off for her 12:30 p.m. flight to Denver, but the duo ended up getting stuck in a six-hour traffic jam on the Hardy Tollway, NBC affiliate KPRC-TV reported.
"As soon as we got off from the Grand Parkway, it was literally five minutes [away], and we were dead stopped,” he said.
Brent and Courtney weren't alone.
Another man told CBS affiliate KHOU that his 22-mile commute home from work took over six hours. He watched on as drivers slipped "out of control" on the ice. According to the station, the holdup was caused by an accident.
The man, identified by the outlet as Ariel M., went on to share that several drivers ran out of gas and were forced to shut off their cars to save fuel. "Four hours sitting in one spot not moving was scary for me," he asaid.
Brent said he didn't know what caused the standstill until his wife called the Harris County Toll Road Authority. That's when they learned there was still ice present after road crews treated the roadway twice to make it navigable.
The HCTRA said in a Monday evening post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that crews had finally "finished treating the northbound lanes of the Hardy Toll Road."
"However, icy conditions remain on the southbound lanes and crews are currently treating those lanes," they added. "Even with a second treatment, icy conditions could remain due to the extreme cold and without a warming trend to assist the de-icing mixture."
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“I used to work up I-70 in Colorado in the mountain area, and I still could get home. It was not this bad,” Courtney told KPRC-TV. “They just didn’t prepare. They don’t know. Houston, just, they have to learn to kind of de-ice the roads ahead of time.”
The Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management said in a statement on Tuesday that multiple agencies, including the Texas Department of Transportation and the Harris County Toll Road Authority, "pre-treated freeways and roadways across the county, including the Hardy Toll Road."
"Even as conditions worsened, they responded to reports of icy conditions throughout the day, laying sand or aggregate to help create traction," the department added. "Some freeway overpasses and bridges were ultimately closed in the interest of public safety."
The HCOHSEM shared that most residents "do not have experience driving in wintery conditions and the result is always a large number of motor vehicle accidents and long traffic delays." Making matters worse, the office noted that "first responders and road crews are often stuck in the same traffic as other motorists and unable to provide timely assistance."
"We are getting back to normal today as sunshine is eliminating the remaining ice and moisture on the roads," the agency continued. PEOPLE has reached out to the Harris County Toll Road Authority for comment.
Courtney ultimately missed her flight, according to KPRC-TV. Still, there was one silver lining, according to the dad: they got "lots of bonding time."
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