PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — During the height of Wednesday’s snowfall, at least two major roads were closed — Route 28 and the Parkway West. But were those closures really necessary?
Way too much white stuff, way too fast.
“We knew it was coming,” said PennDOT’s Jim Struzzi. “We had every piece of equipment out on the roads – 70 to 80 trucks doing what they could.”
But no one expected a sheet of ice, immediately covered by snow that was falling so thick it created whiteout conditions.
“Even though a plow truck may go through, 20 minutes later it can be covered up again,” Struzzi said.
PennDOT never likes to see scenes like what happened on Wednesday on the Parkway West – empty lanes accumulating snow. It happened on the outbound side climbing up towards Green Tree.
Just around the corner from that, Struzzi says, “you had some cars that were actually unable to make it up Greentree Hill heading towards Green Tree. That slowed all the traffic behind them. Once those tractor trailers slowed or stopped – and with the amount of snow that was falling so quickly – they just couldn’t get going again.”
That created a de facto dam of stuck vehicle, preventing PennDOT trucks from getting through the gridlock to the problem areas.
Around the same time on Route 28, which normally flows with a steady amount of traffic throughout the day, state police were forced to close the road from Harmar to Tarentum, detouring all traffic to Freeport Road.
“We just had multiple crashes, multiple disabled vehicles in the medial,” said Lt. Tom Dubovi, of Pennsylvania State Police. “We didn’t feel it was safe to leave it open at that point.
Lt. Dubovi says PennDOT’s trucks were definitely out.
“It was unique in the way it all came down at once, it’s just, PennDOT couldn’t keep up with it,” he added.