Roads reopen; lights still out on Bolivar, Island

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by T.J. Aulds / The Daily News

khou.com

Posted on February 4, 2011 at 4:16 PM

GALVESTON, Texas — More than 5,500 Galveston County residents were still without power Friday afternoon after ice buildup on power lines knocked out power on the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston’s West End.

While temperatures were going up, winds would not die down making thawing out the power lines more difficult. About 3,700 Entergy customers on the Bolivar Peninsula will probably not have power until 8 p.m. tonight, company spokeswoman Debi Derrick said.

In Galveston, 75 CenterPoint Energy workers were trying to knock ice off West End power lines in hopes of restoring power to about 2,000 customers, area manager Keith Gray said. He had hoped to have the power restored by about 1 p.m., but the ice was not melting face enough thanks to high winds.

"I just need about 30 minutes of warmer temperatures without this wind and it would be all over," Gray said.

As many as eight circuits were knocked out after 4:30 a.m., CenterPoint’s regional director Keith Gray said. An estimated 4,000 customers were without power from Stewart Road west on the island, Gray said.

Ice buildup on the power lines and high winds were to blame, Gray and Derrick said, creating what electric providers call "galloping". As the winds slapped the ice-covered lines together, the circuits tripped.

By 10 a.m., Gray said 2,200 island homes were still without power. Extra crews from the mainland were delayed getting to the island by road conditions and restricted lanes across the causeway.

Several roads were closed this morning, but some re-openings were being reported by 9 a.m.

State Highway 146 was closed from North Loop 197 in Texas City to FM 517 in Bacliff because of icy overpasses. Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City was closed from state Highway 146 to Interstate 45.

Both reopened by about 11:30 a.m.

The Kemah bridge at Highway 146 also reopened.

League City announced at 9 a.m. that bridges are de-iced and open at the intersections of Interstate 45 at FM 518 and I-45 at FM 646. The bridge at FM 646 and Brookport Drive also had been de-iced.

Northbound and Southbound lanes of Interstate 45 at the League City Parkway are closed, the bridge at FM 270 in League City and the NASA Bypass in Webster were closed because of ice on the roads, League City officials confirmed. The bridge at state Highway 3 between League City and Webster remains open.

League City police urge residents who do not have to report to work to stay off the roads. The ice on I-45 at League City Parkway is to blame for an injury accident.

Ice buildup also was confirmed early this morning on bridges at FM 518 in Friendswood at the Galveston County/Brazoria County line, on state Highway 124 in High Island, at the Texas City Wye and on FM 2094 in League City, Galveston County Emergency Management officials said. State road crews have sanded the bridges.

Ice also formed on the Galveston Causeway, which became slippery about 5 a.m. and was restricted to one lane in either direction until almost noon. Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman Karen Othon said all causeway lanes were open again by 11:45 a.m. She cautioned drivers to take it slow at any overpass or bridge and to expect delays.

Three wrecks with minor injuries were reported as cars lost control on the icy bridge connecting Galveston with the mainland.

Moody Gardens was on backup power early today, spokeswoman Jerri Hamachek said. All the animals are safe, she said.

Chris Paschenko and Hayley Kappes contributed to this report.

This story was brought to you thanks to khou.com’s partnership with The Galveston County Daily News.

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