Public Works Director Talks About Cleanup Effort

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Public Works Director said the city was running on a skeleton crew when the snow began to fall Monday afternoon.

Many people were off because of the Presidents Day holiday, which made clearing the city’s streets an even bigger challenge.

There were still some trouble spots around the city of Pittsburgh Tuesday morning as crews continued to clear the recent snow.

Wachter Street was blocked by someone’s unsuccessful attempt to travel up the hill Tuesday morning. They crashed into the guardrail and were unable to move their vehicle.

Dave Viszneki said the street is sometimes ignored by city plows and it can cause problems. His car was smashed into last night and it’s not the first time it’s happened.

“Anytime you have a snowstorm there’s going to be criticism,” Pittsburgh Public Works Director Rob Kaczorowski said.

Some may want to hold the city responsible for roads being untreated during the commute, but Kaczorowski said his crews did a great job.

“You [have to] keep in mind our response time for a snowstorm like this is anywhere from 24 to 36 hours. It takes time to travel those 1,200 miles of streets, so people have to be patient,” Kaczorowski said.

The storm ended around 2:30 a.m. and by that point, 800 miles of primary roads were cleared. Crews began working on the secondary roads around 6 a.m.

The timing of the storm was a problem because they called in crews early, but traffic jams around rush hour didn’t allow them to hit the roads as fast.

Kaczorowski said it was the worst traffic jam he’s ever seen around the area.

A private contractor was hired to clear the snow from Third and Fourth Avenues near PPG Place. According to KDKA’s John Shumway, seven tri-axle trucks of snow were hauled away from that area.


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    The roads were a disaster. Kaczorowski, stop making excuses. I think they are waiting until tomorrow when the weather warms up and melts it so they save money, its all about the money. They don’t want to pay overtime so they lie and make excuses. I’ve lived here all my life and before Murphy cut jobs, the roads were always done and done right. We pay enough taxes in this city. Oakland was never touched, where are all the trucks, I haven’t seen any. The boroughs had the same issues and problems and their streets were clear. Schenley Park was untouched, Greenflield Ave, untouched.

  • swin

    Let me see if I got this right? You have a warning from the National Weather Service that a storm is coming so you operate with a skeleton crew. Am I missing something here?

  • Seth

    Why was PennDOT ready and the City of Pittsburgh wasn’t? PennDOT was out supposedly at noon getting people positioned so that they could have roads cleared when the heaviest of the snow fell. There was a noticable difference between the state maintained roads and main city roads such as Negley, Penn, and Butler this morning. The City of Pittsburgh may have made a better effort than last year’s storms when it comes to snow plowing, but they still have a long way to go. Maybe you can consult with public works in Erie, they seem to have their heads together (at least they do on the west side of Erie).

    • Beth

      I don’t know where you were last night but Rt. 279 North was atrocious. We cursed Ravenstahl when we were driving out of the city and then we cursed Penndot and Gov. Corbett all the way up Rt. 279. That was the absolute worse emergency weather response I’ve have ever scene. It was like no one was doing anything before or during the snowstorm. I think they were waiting for it to stop snowing before they plowed the roads.

  • Bill

    Arlington Ave was a mess this morning ! Surprised the T could stay on the tracks. The Blvd of the Allies was a sheet of ice from Duquesne Univ to the off ramp towards the Parkway East. The streets downtown did not look like they were even touched. Pretty embarassing for a City in a Region where it snows during the winter months!

  • Kristin

    This article is bull! Primary roads cleared at 2:30??? I travelled to downtown Pittsburgh this morning at 9:00am, and every road was still uncleared. Forbes Ave, , Liberty Bridge, these aren’t primary roads??? Come on, you had plenty of time to prepare for this!

  • Liz

    I understand having patience, but when the emergency routes and main roads are not cleared, it’s unacceptable. For example, the Liberty Bridge and Forbes Avenue into Oakland was a mess at 11am today! Quit making excuses!!!

  • Gravy Train

    They were on their holiday…Sheesh, talk about fiddling while Rome burns…..Everyday is a holiday for those gravymasters

  • Nancy

    Pittsburgh should be ashamed of themselves for the bad to worse conditions of these streets. I still have not seen a salt truck or plow.

  • Justin Gilles

    This was not Kaczorowski s falt it was KDKA and the other clows weather forcast if they woudl have said we are getting 8-10 inches of snow they would have called in more peopel sooner and planed better. For once they did not make a huge deal out of snow and we got slammed. Of course kdka will report how Kaczorowski had alot of roads covered in snow but they dont report that hey we called for 3 inches and got 8 . Just once would like to see any station go yep we sure blew that call sorry about that.

  • pam

    Are the city workers even working on picking up trash today its almost three o”clock and trash not picked up. This is unbelievable and there is no excuse for it. Other people got to work today. Shame on you luke.

  • Ed

    The city do their normal bad job dealing with this snow storm. At noon on Tuesday many main streets were still ice covered. The liberty bridge, 579, and Veterans bridge and many other roadswere very dangerous. Why would the city have a light staff knowing the local and national weather people were calling for 2 to 4 inches of snow proceeded by freezing rain and sleet. Since the weather forcasters hit the timing of the storm on the nose, it would seem very irresponsible of the public works director to put the people of Pittsburgh lives in such a situation. The only thing the weather forcasters missed was the amount of snow which would have had little effect on the poor job the city did.

  • MaryMo

    Justin – The weather DID change the report to 6-8 early evening last night.

    Honestly, I don’t give a sh!t about that “holiday” yesterday, it was a fake holiday and response crews, even road crews with their little Unions, should have operated as normal, ESPECIALLY when there is a report of snow! This wasn’t a surprise, you knew it was coming. at 11:30am I was driving through Oakland and Fifth Ave. was COVERED in snow! I understand that when it snows hard, side streets and back roads may get put on the back burner, but there is NO excuse as to why the main roads, parkway ramps, and parkway where is such horrible conditions. Between Oct-Mar there should be no “holidays” when there is a report of snow! Even if they report 1-2, they should ALWAYS be prepared for emergency in case there is ice or more snow than anticipated!!

  • kim

    I hate to tell the idiot director., that since there was garbage pick-up yesterday, it was NOT a holiday for the city… what’s the excuse?

    • pam

      Kim you are so right and whats going to be there excuse for not picking up the trash today. My trash is going to sit out there till they pick it up.

  • Joseph Puskar

    Cn i ask why you would even worry bout the roads they called for 1-3 inches and it was 36 degrees… the front went south and cold temps took hold instead of rain…..we got a shload of snow….we do live in pa. people….in winter in the north stop being so cheap and get a set of blizzacks on ur car and plow thru it!! its cheaper than an accident….dumb dumb complaints!

  • Brandon Mcgraw

    Funny thing about it if anyone watched the news they said it had nothing to do with presidents day and they had 2 full crews out. Now there tryign to change the story seems like……

    • Yeah, OK

      Yesterday morning this public works guys called in and said “BECAUSE of the Holiday, we were running a skeleton crew.” Then last night I read on that this guy claims there were 60 crews out and the residents seemed satisfied with the removal process and they had all main streets done by 6AM and started on backroads. That’s a load of sh!t! Read these comments, do we sound satisfied? 5th Ave in Oakland was a mess at 11:30am!! Ardmore Blvd. in Forest Hills had 8 inches of snow between the tire paths, meaning it wasn’t plowed, people were just making tracks through it!

  • Bob46

    Ahhh, it brings back memories of how life was growing up in the “Burgh in the 50’s to the 70’s. I lived on Leaside Drive (try to find it!) Hint – it’s up on the hill above Hays. We never saw a plow…and the one time we did the operator lost control of it, slid backwards hit a pole and knocked out power to 80% of the hill top.

    The Pgh. Police in an International Travelall 4×4 couldn’t getup the hill and a neighbor died of a heart attack from shoveling snow.

    Yeah, I remember. You folks can complain all you want – but REMEMBER – YOU VOTED FOR THEM.


    It all about the money, I’m telling you. I know people who work for the snow crew and they say half the time they don’t even get called and then they are on TV saying they have all trucks out. Its a lie, they are trying to save money period. They are hoping it melts and we run it over with our vehicles, then the city saved, $100K in salt and overtime and the complaining stops once the snot melts. They got what they wanted. They should have plows on the garbage trucks and more staff during the winter. Why was South Park and the boroughs clean, they had the same information. It’s all BS, just be honest, Luke is trying to stay within a budget, period. I’ll bet on it

    • WC

      What’s wrong with staying within a budget? Isn’t that we want if we don’t want to pay more taxes? People complain that they pay enough taxes as it is, but some things cost money, and if you want it done more quickly and more efficiently, its going to cost more money.

  • Chill Pill

    I admit it was a terrible job by the snow response but sheesh, if these is all you guys have to complain about and obsess over I think you got it pretty good.

  • Dr Phil

    well who in their right mind should be out driving when the snow is coming down you are asking for trouble

  • Daniel

    Did they ever think to put plows on the garbage trucks like they do in Omaha? Plow the streets while picking up garbage. The plows come off when not needed.


    Will you all quit whining :( I’m not saying that the roads weren’t bad last night, it took me 21/2 hours to travel 20 miles (normally 30 minute commute). I still remember when residents walked down the street to the SALT BOXES to salt their own streets. No one whined or complained they just did what needed done.
    The roads can’t be PRE tereated when it is raining, DUH! \
    My commute took so long yesterday because most people have no idea how to drive on anything except dry roads in their pseudo off road vehilces. Buy snow tires and learn how to use them, be patient and take turns going up and down the bad hills. Then we can all get to where we want and without the news casts being interview after interview of people blaming somone who has no control over the weather.

  • Union Buster

    Overtime? Why should the plow drivers get overtime?
    They don’t do anything during the normal winter day (certainly they don’t fix potholes). They should lay off the workers for the time in the winter when they have no outside work to do and then have them work to clear the snow when it snows…But OH NOOO.. not with a UNION.
    This is Pennsylvania remember..where unions rule… Work as little as possible and get paid as much as possible. I am embarrassed to tell people I live in Pennsylvania. I hope this changes now that we have a decent governor, maybe someday we could get a decent Mayor who actually cares about the city and not himself.

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