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Road crews pushed to the limit

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 3:03 p.m.

Crews in many municipalities in the region began conserving their road salt earlier this week because of the lag time for ordered shipments to arrive.

Officials in Penn Township and Manor placed orders on Monday to ensure both municipalities' road departments are able to replenish their declining supplies. That was on top of orders both submitted last week.

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.

After a snowy weekend, township officials ordered another 500 tons on Monday because the salt dome was almost empty, he said.

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.

The temperature was minus 8 on Tuesday morning in Manor, where two road crew workers pulled 14-hour and 12-hour shifts on Saturday to keep streets clear of snow, Manager Joe Lapia said.

“I thought the worst of it would be in February,” he said. “Maybe it'll be in January, instead.”

Both Manor and Trafford are benefiting from recent expansions of their road crews.

Manor has had a third full-time public-works employee for about a year; Trafford added a fourth full-timer at the start of January.

Trafford Manager Jeff McLaughlin said he thought the new employee was making it easier for public-works foreman Bill Sadler to shuffle his staff to cover shifts.

Borough officials might mix anti-skid materials with the road salt to make its supply of 75 tons last longer while they shop around for possible lower prices for salt, McLaughlin said.

Staff Writer Daveen Rae Kurutz contributed to this story.

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