Hempfield, South Greensburg to lift travel restrictions

| Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 11:45 a.m.

South Greensburg will lift travel restrictions in the borough at noon on Saturday after receiving salt from PennDOT, said Secretary-Treasurer Lee Kunkle.

Hempfield on Friday lifted its disaster emergency declaration after receiving a loan of salt from the state.

Other municipalities in the county are coping with different situations.

Washington Township warned motorists on Friday that because of a salt shortage, road crews will only plow and salt hills and intersections to conserve the township's remaining stock.

The City of Jeannette is in better shape, said Mayor Richard Jacobelli, after receiving a shipment Friday.

“We have sufficient salt on board,” he said. “We're in better shape than Hempfield. We're in really, really good shape.”

“Based on the current weather forecast, and the fact that we got an additional 100 tons of salt, we should be able to handle any event that occurs,” said Hempfield Supervisor Chairman Doug Weimer.

Hempfield, Unity and South Greensburg announced travel restrictions Thursday night because they had run out of salt to treat roads.

PennDOT lent 100 tons of salt to South Greensburg and an equal amount to Hempfield, which also obtained 150 tons of anti-skid material. Trafford received a salt supply from the state on Friday.

Mike Volpe, director of public works, said the township will stretch the salt supply by mixing it with an equal amount of anti-skid material, which is crushed stone, sand and cinders.

“We're hoping that we could get through the weekend with that,” Volpe said. “I called our salt vendors, but no one is calling back.”

Weimer said Hempfield requested 500 tons from the state to treat the township's 300 miles of roadways.

“We spread 200 tons on just one pass when we salt township roads,” he said.

Volpe said crews plowed roads Thursday and said warmer temperatures on Friday should reduce the amount of slush on the roads before a weekend snowfall drops 2 to 4 inches more, according to the National Weather Service, which issued a winter weather advisory for Westmoreland County. The advisory remains in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday.

Township supervisors declared a disaster emergency on Thursday, restricting non-essential travel on roads they maintain. The exception was for anyone going to work, school or medical appointments.

The cancellation of classes at Hempfield Area “has taken a lot of vehicles off the road with school buses, parents and students driving to school,” Volpe said. “I'm seeing sporadic cars on township roads. People are helping the cause.”

The continuous snowfalls have caused a national shortage of road salt, said Holly Lubart, spokeswoman for the state Department of General Services.

Deliveries have stalled because of frozen rivers, which have limited salt shipments from Canada, she said. Some salt vendors haven't been able to mine, ship and deliver quickly enough to meet the demand.

While PennDOT can lend salt to municipalities, Lubart said, the state must restrict the amount to ensure an adequate supply for state highways and the turnpike. District 12, which encompasses a four-county area, has 12,000 tons of salt stockpiled. Municipalities that borrow salt must repay it to state stockpiles once they receive back orders.

Since December, salt companies have shipped more than 1.1 million tons of road salt into the state, according to the Department of General Services. That figure includes shipments to the state as well as municipal governments.

Parts of Pennsylvania remain under an open disaster declaration from an earlier storm that hit the eastern half of the state.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

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