Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More Snow on Its Way with Low Salt Supply, City Asks for Patience on Roads

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

More Snow on Its Way with Low Salt Supply, City Asks for Patience on Roads

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh officials are asking the public to be patient as the city tries to cope with the same low-salt diet that has been forced on other municipalities this winter.

With another storm expected overnight, Operations Director Guy Costa said the city was expecting delivery of 500 tons of rock salt today - an amount that is about half of what typically is used to deal with 1 inch of snow. The city also expects to have 500 tons of a mixture of sand and granulated limestone, which will be sprayed with liquid calcium, a melting agent. Another 500 tons of salt is due to arrive on Tuesday, he said.

"We want to remind people, if they have to go out tonight, to please drive cautiously," Mr. Costa said.

If the forecast 2 to 4 inches of snow materializes, crews will focus on plowing and treating main roads first, and will try to stretch the supply of salt and anti-skid material by treating hills, curves, intersections and school zones, he said.

"Our plows are ready to go. Our trucks are ready to go," Mr. Costa said.

The city and other municipalities have said their rock salt contractor, American Rock Salt, based in New York state, has been unable to fill their orders, delivering much less than the requested amounts. "Everyone's doing the best we can with the resources we have," Mr. Costa said. He said this winter's weather is the worst he's encounted in 25 years of working for the city.

A reporter's call to American Rock Salt was transferred to a recorded message that says the company has been mining salt continuously since December and will continue to do so. "Our focus must remain on mining operations so we are unable to respond to requests for interviews," the recording says.

The city bought 300 tons of salt from the Pennsylvania Turnpike last week, and used it all on Saturday, Mr. Costa said.

PennDOT spokesman Steve Cowan said the department has adequate supplies on hand to deal with the expected storm. "It's tough to say what the rest of the winter will bring," he said.

Full crews will be out overnight treating state-maintained roads, Mr. Cowan said. PennDOT also is pre-treating roads with brine today to accelerate melting once the snow begins. …

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