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PennDOT budgets $3.2M for winter work on Armstrong roads

| Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

PennDOT officials in Armstrong County are hoping for a mild winter but are preparing for the worst.

The agency budgeted $3.2 million for winter maintenance this year, according to Andrew Firment, manager of the Armstrong County PennDOT office.

“Weather is very hard to predict, but if winter were to start today, we're ready for it,” Firment said. “If it doesn't start until December or January, then we're going to work on other activities until we have to get ready for a storm.

“If it's a light winter, which we pray for, we'll generate savings to put back into the roads and other repairs.”

PennDOT's budget covers costs for road salt, equipment repairs, anti-skid treatment and special salt to make a brine solution, which is used to pre-treat roadways, Firment said.

During the winter, PennDOT officials monitor weather across the state, using forecasts from AccuWeather, the Weather Channel and local newscasts. Offices across the state interact with each other on a daily basis, giving updates on winter weather conditions to help track storms, Firment said.

As storms develop and move, PennDOT crews begin planning and preparing their equipment to apply anti-skid and anti-icing brine to keep snow from sticking to roadways, Firment said.

“A lot of discussions take place when we expect winter weather,” Firment said. “We have to discuss where and when it's projected to hit, how much manpower we'll need and how to deal with our current conditions.”

Dispatchers staff PennDOT's Kittanning offices around the clock throughout the winter, not only to direct its truck drivers but to offer road condition updates to motorists, Firment said.

PennDOT operators can be reached, around the clock, by calling 724-543-1811.

“We can't tell you what decision to make in regards to whether you should go out or not, but we'll provide you with updates,” Firment said. “It's important to remember weather happens quickly, so when temperatures drop, anything can happen.

“Drivers just need to use caution and proper judgment when dealing with winter weather and remember it's always best to just slow down.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

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