Winter weather keeps public works crews busy

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 2:45 p.m.

Monroeville Public Works Director Mike Adams said Tuesday that frigid temperatures don't present a problem for his road crew — as long as it doesn't snow.

Unfortunately, this winter has had a lot of both.

Frequent snowfalls and record-breaking temperatures in recent weeks have reduced salt supplies in some municipalities to a few hundred tons.

So far, Monreoville is faring all right, Adams said.

The salt pile at the public works building was reduced from 4,500 tons at the start of the winter season to 1,800 tons as of Tuesday, Adams said.

“It's a good thing we had it stockpiled,” Adams said. “We're not in panic mode just yet.”

Since snow began falling in late autumn, plow trucks have had to clear about 42 inches of snow, which is twice the average snowfall through late January, the National Weather Service in Moon reports.

Last weekend, 7 inches of snow — including about 5.2 inches on Jan. 24 — fell on the region, meteorologist Bill Modzelewski said.

Temperatures in the east suburbs of Pittsburgh dipped well below zero on Tuesday, with wind chills dropping to between minus-20 and minus-30 degrees.

Over the course of a 2-inch snowfall, the public works crew typically would use between 400 and 600 tons of salt on Monroeville roads, Adams said.

Adams ordered an additional 2,000 tons from a salt depot in West Elizabeth that supplies multiple municipalities, he said.

“Every community has it ordered,” Adams said. “We'll get a little bit at a time.”

The additional 2,000 tons will cost about $115,000, which Monroevill Council will cover by pulling money from the general fund budget next month, Manager Tim Little said.

Murrysville crews had about 400 tons left,as of Tuesday, which would be enough for three more storms, public works director Bob Bell estimated.

“We try to keep one half of our salt building full,” Bell said. “It's pretty vacant in there.”

On Tuesday morning, Penn Township received only half of a 500-ton order of salt that had been placed a week earlier, Manager Bruce Light said.

Daveen Rae Kurutz and Chris Foreman contributed to this report.

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