REALITY CHECK: Mobile's winter weather preparations


In tonight’s reality check, we’re seeing if Mobile has made any changes to its winter weather preparations, as promised.

Last January, ice created a travel nightmare for commuters in Mobile. We learned then that the sand placed on icy roads didn't work.

With potentially dangerous weather heading our way Tuesday, NBC 15 checked in with our city and county to see what plans are in the works to keep our roads safe,

Two treacherous days on icy roads last January resulted in at least 90 crashes in the city of Mobile. I-10 and I-65 shut down for hours and city leaders talked about lessons learned in the aftermath.

“Whenever you have ice and the conditions we had there’s always learning opportunities,” Mayor Sandy Stimpson said last January at a city council meeting.

Last January, Mayor Stimpson said some of the sand was damp and became frozen last year.

“There was entirely too much ice and we can’t let that happen again,” councilmember John Williams said last January at a city council meeting.

Councilmember Williams mentioned our reporting in the middle of a city council meeting last January after we showed how neighboring Harrison County, Mississippi used salt and was able to keep every bridge open.

“Let’s do what the northern cities are doing, let’s use salt, lets go out and make sure we have a strategic plan for next time,” Williams told NBC 15 last January.

Tuesday could be the next time, so we asked Mr. Williams, the administration and Mobile county if they have salt ready.

A representative from the county says crews are on standby in case roads need sanding.

A representative from the city says Mobile also has course sand, should bridge decks freeze.

NBC 15 sent our story from last year to both Mayor Stimpson and Williams’ offices asking why they still have sand and not salt despite what they were preaching a year ago.

Late Monday afternoon Mobile’s communication director Laura Byrne sent the following statement:

We are utilizing a different type of sand from last year. Rather than using a fine grade, we are using a coarse version which is more abrasive and effective. We do not use salt, because it can contaminate the waterways through run off. Sand can also be reused for other purposes while salt has no other use.