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PennDOT ready for more snow

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

After catching their breath from a midweek storm that caused problems across Western Pennsylvania, transportation officials geared up for another blast of winter weather expected to bring up to 4 inches of snow on Saturday.

“We'll have our plows on the road long before the first flake of snow hits the ground. We're ready to go,” said Pennsylvania Turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo.

Officials said they were ready for the last storm, too, but it wreaked havoc on highways, city streets and air travel.

A storm Wednesday dumped 2 to 6 inches of snow on Allegheny County, plus sleet and freezing rain, said Bill Modzelewski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Moon. Almost all of the precipitation came down during a five-hour period.

“Quite a bit of snow and ice fell over a short amount of time. That's what caused the big impact,” Modzelewski said.

He said forecasters expect 2 to 4 inches of snow between 3 a.m. and mid-afternoon Saturday — perhaps more in the Laurel Highlands — with temperatures hovering in the upper 20s and lower 30s. He didn't expect any sleet or rain.

PennDOT District 11 spokesman Jim Struzzi said the agency palns to put a full shift of workers on the clock starting at midnight, about 70 to 80 workers in all for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties. If needed, he said PennDOT would keep workers who end their shift at 8 p.m. Friday.

The agency factors overtime expenses into its budget, and expenses have been well under budget so far this winter because of mild conditions.

Todd Garrison, director of maintenance for the Turnpike Commission, said the agency was “going to be fully staffed for the storm,” with crews working regularly scheduled shifts around the clock. The agency will bring in more on-call workers if necessary, Garrison said.

Pittsburgh Public Works said a “full complement of crews will be working 12-hour shifts around the clock,” according to an alert issued Friday.

“Our 311 service center will not be accepting calls for streets to be cleaned during a snow event. Our goal is to have streets treated within 24 hours once the snow has quit falling,” the alert said.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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