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Irwin OKs snow plow

| Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 9:47 p.m.

Irwin officials aren't waiting for Punxsutawney Phil to provide a positive prediction for a quick end to winter.

Borough council recently gave public works director Jim Halfhill the go-ahead to “fast track” the purchase of new $6,100 snowplow after learning that parts for a 16-year-old plow system that failed no longer are available.

“At the beginning of the month, we were down to one snowplow,” said Halfhill, whose four-person crew is responsible for clearing snow and salting the 18.1 miles of borough streets.

The public-works department took delivery of the plow last week and plans to have it installed on a 2001 dump truck by the end of this week. The department has two other dump trucks — a 1999 that is equipped with a salt spreader but does not have a plow and a 2006 that has both a plow and salt spreader.

When snow is in the forecast, Halfhill and his crew use salt to pretreat roadways and then make additional passes with salt once the snow has been plowed. However, if rain falls before it begins to snow, pretreating “is a waste” because the salt will be washed away.

Irwin started the winter with 220 tons of road salt and will reorder more through the season as its needed. Halfhill expects to use about 800 tons of salt by the time the weather breaks.

Council also gave Halfhill permission earlier this month to order a new dump truck that will be outfitted with a plow and spreader. The Ford F-450 will be equipped with a diesel engine for durability and have an aluminum bed and panels that won't rust when they are exposed to the corrosive affects of salt and moisture.

The new truck will cost about $75,000. The vehicle was ordered from the Kenny Ross dealership, which participates in the state's purchasing program that allows municipalities and other government agencies to buy items at low prices without the need for competitive bidding, Halfhill said.

“I ordered the new truck as soon as council gave me the go-ahead, but it will probably take eight to 10 weeks before we take delivery,” he said. “Until then, we'll make do with what we have.”

Mayor Dan Rose said he is impressed with the borough's tiny road crew.

“I can't tell you how many times over the years residents have come up to me and said how good a job the borough does at removing snow,” the mayor said. “There's been plenty of times that Route 30 is covered in snow, and then you drive into Irwin and the roads are clear. I think they do an outstanding job.”

Tony LaRussa is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or at tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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