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Pittsburgh poised to invest $1.4 million for high-tech snow plowing system

Bob Bauder
| Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, 5:33 p.m.
A Pittsburgh Public Works truck plowing North Avenue in the North Side.
A Pittsburgh Public Works truck plowing North Avenue in the North Side.

Pittsburgh is poised to update its online snow plow tracking program with a new global positioning system, officials said Wednesday.

City Council unanimously approved a three-year, $1.4 million contract with Minnesota-based Quetica LLC in a preliminary vote. A final vote is expected on Tuesday.

The company will provide fleet tracking, route optimization and navigation services for about about 120 plows.

“This new system will measure everything,” Mayor Bill Peduto said. “It will measure whether the plow is up or down. It will calibrate the rotation of the salt sprayer to make sure the proper amount of salt is being utilized for the amount of snow, which in the end will save on the amount of salt that may be dropped in any given year. It will calculate when a truck needs to be refilled with salt and have it so that it’s done as part of it’s route, not just going back over streets that already have been coated.”

Chuck O’Neill, senior manager of fleet and asset manager in the Office of Management and Budget, said about 70 percent of the $1.4 million would be spent on new equipment. The remainder will go toward software development and consulting services, among other things.

He said the company will evaluate the city’s trucks and determine “which trucks should be on which routes when.”

He said more efficient routes would translate into a reduction in fuel and overtime costs.

Computerized salt spreader controls will allow the Department of Public Works to control the amount of salt going on streets during a snowfall. The city now has five different types of spreader controls in trucks.

Quetica will provide one standard control. DPW supervisors can estimate how much salt should be used based on the amount of snow that falls and program the spreaders accordingly, O’Neill said. He said the city anticipates using less salt and estimating the savings to be $3.7 million over five years.

Peduto said he hopes to have the system up and running before the end of winter.

“We want to be able to move past the days of clip board and paper with our snow removal system and move into the era where drivers are being given specific routes and directions and accountability is built into place to make sure they’re being followed,” he said.

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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