Unlike with a hurricane, when Northeast Florida prepares for bridge closures when the wind reaches a high enough speed, there’s no clear threshold for when roads and bridges will close- if at all- because of wintry conditions.
But state and local agencies are partnering to closely monitor and keep you safe.
The Florida Highway Patrol has changed its staffing- canceling days off, administrative work, and off-duty work- in order to free up more resources to respond wherever needed. That could include responding to help you after a crash, to keep the roads safe, or to help close down a road or bridge.
“We want to have all available resources available if the call is required,” says FHP Sergeant Dylan Bryan.
You’re urged to stay off the road altogether if you can through this storm system, but if you do head out, you need to be cautious about the potential for ice.
“It’ll take what people are used to as far as wet roadways, and kind of magnify that. Once that stuff freezes, it becomes very slippery,” Bryan says.
JSO Chief Leonard Propper says, when you’re on the road in potentially icy conditions, you should reduce your speed, keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles, keep your lights on if it’s dark, keep your seatbelt on, use both hands on the wheel, maintain a heightened awareness of your surroundings, and pump your breaks if there are slick spots on the road.
The Florida Department of Transportation will make the call on major closures. JSO says they’re working in close cooperation. Nassau County Emergency Management says the FDOT is over the major interstates, but the EOC will control local highways. They’re especially watching for potential ice on the Shave Bridge.
Jacksonville also says they have sand ready to deploy along icy roads if needed. Baker County Emergency Management has also been coordinating with their roads department. The Governor’s Office says FDOT crews are spraying state roads and bridges with a saline solution that is designed to lower the freezing temperature of precipitation that falls on to road surfaces.
Ultimately, Bryan is stressing that your best option is just to stay inside.
“If it’s not essential, if it’s not an important trip, then remain off the roadways,” he says.
WOKV will have continuing coverage of the storm and impact on you and your commute through the day.