Northbound Drivers Faced Nightmarish Commute

BUTLER (KDKA) — Drivers just trying to get home found it next to impossible with some roads shut down in Butler County.

“It’s awful, completely awful,” said Maggie Watson of Mars, who was stuck in stopped traffic on Route 8 South of Butler. “It’s taken me from Target up in Butler two hours to get here.”

Big rigs and cars that couldn’t make it up a hill blocked all the traffic behind them for miles and miles.

“It’s pretty horrible,” said David Duncan of Butler. “I’ve been sitting here for about 45 minutes.”

Same story on Interstate 79 northbound between Zelienople and Portersville, traffic was just stopped for miles and miles behind stuck vehicles.

PennDOT says the storm rolled in at the worst possible time – rush hour. “When traffic started to back up, our folks were struck in traffic. We’re trying to move, we’re trying to move and just not making headway,” said Bob Skrak from PennDot in Butler County.

He hopes the snow stops by 6 a.m. Tuesday, so they have time to get ahead of it before the morning rush hour.

At least five-inches of snow had fallen by 11 p.m. Monday in Cranberry and PennDOT is asking anyone driving on the interstates in Butler, Beaver, Lawrence and Allegheny Counties to go no faster than 45mph.

On Route 910 in Marshall Township, Allegheny County, it was extremely slow going in first few hours of the storm, as cars got stuck and tractor trailer jackknifed closer to North Park.

“The roads are terrible,” said Leslie Aber of Marshall. “Usually, we have 10-minute drive and it’s taken us 45 minutes to get home!”

  • Robert Ripa

    Penn DOT should be working as it snows to accommodate the public and work for the public and which we pay our tax dollars for. In turn, they wait until the storm subsides and at this time it causes stress and mass disruption for the public going to work, and our children attending school on a two hour delay. My experience of living in Colorado and now here in Pennsylvania, DOT does not do the job they should be doing in clearing PUBLIC travel ways. Also, people that have no experience driving in snowy conditions should NOT be traveling.

  • Ann

    Stay off the roads so PennDot cam actually do their job. Stop blaming PennDot. Unless you do not watch TV, read a paper, talk to human beings or go online, you would have known there was a storm coming. Shame on anyone who did not plan accordingly. Next time I guess PennDot will have to send out cranes to lift the vehicles so they can plow and salt the roads.

    • PJ

      I see Ann and Penn Dot does not read the paper, watch tv, talk to human beings, or go on line, nor do they have weather tracking equipment I guess. And I guess its OK that they didn’t plan accordingly. Yesterday was a holiday so there wasn’t as many cars on the roads as usual for them to move. Till rush hour hit and the reoads were impassible. Shame on them. What do you work for them and feed off the people who work and pay taxes expecting them to maintain our roads for us.. Absolutely unacceptable. Totally ridiculous. I sat on a port authority bus for 3 and 1/2 hourls last nigt. Penn Dot knew this was coming. It started at 2PM yesterday in Cranberry. They knew hours before it hit us. I pay local taxes I pay state taxes, I pay gasoline taxes, I pay taxes to work in the city of Pittsburgh, I am taxed to death by this state, this municipality, this county, allegheny county and peoples lives are put at risk because it was rush hour when it hit. Bull S_ _ _. Useless, lazy, wasteful, PennDot. I can’t write the the words I feel about PennDot.

      • William Campbell

        Glad you pay taxes. Teachers suck. Roads suck. Police suck. But you pay your taxes. Thanks for doing your part.

      • Steve

        Here here! it’s absolutely ridiculous when I-79 is nearly impassable at 7AM today and the tiny neighborhood road I live on in my borough is down to wet pavement. I drive I-79 between Neville Island and Canonsburg to work and I did not see ONE PENNdot plow on either side of I-79 the entire way to work. I’d sure like to know what the heck PENNdot is doing today, because they’re sure as heck not working on I-79!!!!!

    • J-Daddy

      “Unless you do not watch TV, read a paper, talk to human beings or go online, you would have known there was a storm coming. Shame on anyone who did not plan accordingly.”

      So Shame on PennDot… right? Why weren’t they out KNOWING the storm was coming? Shame, shame on THEM for not planning accordingly.

      • Timber

        They knew about this storm, but It was a “Holiday” and they’re union employees. Case closed………

    • Chuddy

      Tough to stay off the roads when you are trying to get home from work, chief. Are poeple supposed to sleep in their offices so PennDot can clear the roads?

    • phree

      Some of us have no choice but to be on the roads to get home from work. I left work at 8 PM and my 52 mile drive took 3 hours versus 50 minutes because drivers no longer pay for snow tires and think front wheel drive and all season radials are sufficient.

      No driver should be on the roads without snow tires during our harsh winters, but people are too cheap to buy snow tires. Everyone who was stuck had poor tires and a poor vehicle for the snow. I drive a Subaru with snow tires and had no problem getting through slowly but had to weave around my irresponsible neighbors in Western PA who refuse to realize that we live in a snow region that demand winter preparations and equipment for your vehicle. Irresponsible, cheap drivers cause the mess last night, not the snow.

      • jeez

        Not everyone can afford snow tires or a good car. Maybe instead of complaining about your fellow neighbors of western PA who don’t have snow tires, you could get out of your fancy car and help them out if they’re stuck on the side of the road? hm? good neighboring citizen?

    • Calls it like I see it

      Um, They where only calling for 1-3 inches as of NOON, and it was not forecast to snow till latter in the EVENING,, The only person to blame is the idiot weather persons who dropped the ball on this one, just like they did back last February, but everybody wants to blame pendot and the city because they don’t have a time machine and actually trust the weather persons, shame on them for trusting the weathermen

  • Sue

    PA is already over budget for manhours worked AND the allotment of salt. I think Penndot is doing a good job.

  • PJ

    Yeah Sue kind of like the Port Authority that is running out of money while the top guys collect fat paychecks and the bus drivers are the highest paid in the country and thousands of people in Butler County and god knows how many in Allegheny County are going to have to find a way to get to work. Right, poor Penn Dot. My heart bleeds for them.

  • Jack

    PJ: I’m relieved you can’t write the words you “feel”. Try “thinking” sometime instead because you are an idiot.

    If PennDot starts plowing when the storm starts, they still have to go back and replow everything once it ends. It saves taxpayer money to wait. Putting plow drivers on the road while it is snowing is dangerous for them and for those on the road. Visibility is marginal at best. Rescue is costly. Remember, an injured snowplow operator is the responsibility of the Commonwealth.

    It is our duty as citizens to stay off the highway when conditions are treacherous, and let the Commonwealth do its job.

    Except for you PJ, you get to go out for a drive! Please! And leave your cell at home.

  • Chief

    I hope someone investigates how many PennDOT workers were actually working on Presidents day. You would think with the quadruple overtime, or whatever they get for working on a state holiday they would have been out salting at noon, but no, I saw far fewer PennDOT trucks than normal yesterday, my guess, because they were all at home on celebrating Presidents Day.

  • dave

    It was bad timing for the snow to start. PennDot does suck, but this is not their fault.

  • Drew

    As a NW PA resident who drives to Pittsburgh daily, I have to say that Bob from Colorado is spot-on. 12 inches of snow fell in the Erie area through the early morning hours on Monday, but I-79 was quite passable in Erie & Crawford counties, where the majority of the snow fell. PennDOT in NW PA does a GREAT job keeping roadways passable.

    Whenever it snows, I routinely enconter much worse driving conditions as I get closer to Pittsburgh – the PennDOT crews in Butler & Allegheny counties simply don’t get their equipment out ahead of the storms and pre-treat the roadways.
    They have access to weather radar and should know when to staff up and prepare for storms, but they consistently fail.

    Bill is also right about people who are not used to travelling in snow – stay off the roads! I drove by the tractor trailer stuck on I-79 yesterday and saw many folks creeping up to it with their wheels spinning, not knowing what to do, and about to get stuck themselves. They failed to maintain some momentum going up the hill and got stuck. I would bet that most of these folks also don’t have snow tires on their vehicles. All-season tires ARE NOT SNOW TIRES. If you want to save some cash and go with all season tires, then stay off the roads in poor driving conditions – you will only end up stuck or slide off the road somewhere.

    • tm

      What does spot on mean? Duh

    • phree

      Spot on means absolutely correct. I have contempt for people who think front wheel drive cars with all season tires are sufficient for our region. It was sheer stupidity that caused the back ups last night. People are either too cheap or too ignorant to buy snow tires and prepare their cars for winter.

      It was our neighbors who don’t know the first thing about preparing a car for winter or driving in the snow that made the roads a mess last night. Blame people without snow tires.

      • Geralt

        Have driven 200 miles in the storm yesterday on all season tires in Subaru Forester. I had only trouble with cleaning snow off my windshield.

      • phree

        Thank your Subaru for the 200 miles. All season tires are good for rain and dry roads, not much good in deep snow. If you were stuck last night, I’d say you were cheap and irresponsible too!

    • NICK


  • J-Daddy

    “Unless you do not watch TV, read a paper, talk to human beings or go online, you would have known there was a storm coming.” In all fairness… didn’t they know too? Why not get a jump on it and have trucks out… ready

  • Stan

    Thank you to the PennDOT workers that worked hard clearing the roads last night. Your work is appreciated by many despite the negative comments posted here by others.

    • Steve

      Yeah they worked so hard last night, yet a MAJOR north/south interstate such as I-79 was nearly impassable in Allegheny/Washington County this morning at 7AM, a good 8 hours after the snow stopped. Yeah, GREAT job by PennDOT!!!

  • patick

    Rush hour? I was on the road at 10pm last night, and got stuck in front of the Fort Pitt tunnels before deciding to go down route 65. I did not see a single plow or salt truck and the roads look like they had not been touched.

    I drive from Oakland, and this is the second year that I have driven from Oakland in the winter and in reality the roads look like they are not even touched in Oakland til the next morning.

    Last night, after the snow falling for several hours, I left from my job and found the roads to be untouched by any snow clearing machine.

  • Dave

    And at 6:30am this morning my road in Middlesex Township (Butler County) had still not been touched AT ALL.

    • Bob

      Same here, And its still a mess where the my road is shaded, they came past my place about 6, I am also in Middlesex

  • Gary

    I pulled into the Butler Kmart and waited for four hours before leaving.It only delayed things ,the roads were still a mess.Next time everyone flood your local stores if you’re out in this.Then we’ll see if it’s all the traffic or bad road mgmt.The above mentions snow tires which is a must,yes snow tires not all seasons.I’ve also traveled through other states in these conditions and yes they can do better.

  • goofoff

    I did not see one Penn DOT truck on my 1-1/2 hour drive home from work yesterday OR on my drive in back to work this morning!

  • Erica Lynn Phillips

    It took me 6 1/2 hours to get from the airport to Greensburg!!! Im still angry about it.

  • Jess

    I did not see one plow (in either direction) yesterday evening in the 3 hours it took me to get home. The turnpike didn’t even have tire marks. 79 was just slow and people couldn’t see. I wish I had yesterday off. Today wasn’t much better roads seemed fine but dumb people can’t drive and wreck. I’d rather people go slow then wreck. Wrecking causes more of a headache.

  • Jack

    What’s sad is snow tires are basically free because while the snow tires are on the car the summer tires are sitting the garage, therefore making them last longer. Drivers involved in accidents or tying up traffic who do not have snow tires should be fined heavily because they shouldn’t be on the roads in poor conditions. They are dangerous to those of us who actually prepare for winter.

  • phree

    Totally agree! Also those who have no clue how to drive in snow ought to be fined heavily if their stupidity ties up traffic for miles all because they hit their brakes, slid across two lanes of traffic and then lack insufficient tires for getting out of the snow.

    I have little compassion for the cheap and ignorant who tied up traffic last night while the rest of us sat for hours trying to move past them.

  • Andrew

    The condition of I79, particularly the on- and off-ramps, this morning in Butler County was inexcusable.

    This and how last week I saw someone who had smashed into the back of a construction truck in the left lane on I79N just north of Zelienople has me thinking…. PennDOT apparently also thinks a handful of road flares in front of a blind hill constitutes an adequate warning of lane closure.

    Those mouth-breathing high school dropouts should be fired–all of them. Someone could’ve been killed.

  • m

    For the record most of the snow plow drivers were out while you were sleeping and out again before you woke up. It’s easy to complain about your road not being touched but there are a lot of roads to be done. Yes, my spouse works for the township so I know first hand how much time they spend plowing those roads. It is frustrating to see your road not touched, bit it is also frustrating for the driver when everybody complains. They are doing their job. They can only drive for so many hours before it gets dangerous for them to continue to be on the road. It’s NOT the drivers fault, the townships are cutting back just like everybody else in corporate America. Complain to the township manager and a simple thanks to the driver might be nice once in a while.!!!!!!!

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