Pittsburgh Public Works upgrades snow and ice control

Gage Goulding


Photo Credit (MGN Online)

Gage Goulding, Assistant News Manager

PITTSBURGH — As temperatures begin to drop and snow flurries start to fly, the City of Pittsburgh has reevaluated its snow and ice control program and is ready to tackle every situation.

New for this winter season to tackle harsh weather is a modified road salt mixture, enhanced technologies, increased vehicle capacity, new personnel changes and a new program reintroducing salt boxes throughout the city.

The biggest change is the salt mixture that trucks clearing roads in Pittsburgh will be using. This year, the mixture will be tinted blue to help residents see that the road surface has been treated, according to the city. The new mixture also has a lower melting point which will be more effective in months will below freezing temperatures.

Following the disbursement of nearly 16,000 tons of regular rock salt, the new magnesium chloride salt will be implemented to the city’s salt domes. The new mixture has a freezing point of up to -30 degrees.

Salt boxes will be placed at targeted areas throughout the city. Forty-four areas throughout the city which are hilly, have sharp bends or near steps will have the salt boxes.

The truck in the city are also receiving upgrades, according to a statement from the city. Each plow truck will be equipped with technology that will allow the public and supervisors to see when a vehicles plus is up or down, when the salt spreader is on or off and provide workers with more in-depth road clearing instructions. The new equipment is a move to help the city move away from paper based plowing and salting routes. Trucks will be outfitted with a tablet which will feed live information to drivers.

The downside to the new technology: the city expected the implementation to be completed in January 2019. According to a statement, the Snow Plow Tracker system on the city’s website will be inactive until the upgrades are completed.

In the city, there are 104 vehicles that have both plows and salt spreaders and another 33 vehicles that have a plow only. If the fleet is running at full capacity, 137 vehicles will work to clear city streets, according to a statement from the city.

The city will also call upon the Bureau of Environmental Services when truck drivers are scarce. In a statement to the media, the city said that it is difficult to staff trucks during weekends and holidays. The new labor agreement will allow drivers from environmental services to help with snow removal, only when all other resources are exhausted.