PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The state has officially unveiled a new feature on the 511pa.com website that allows the public to track snow plows throughout the state.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the program’s launch Monday as the southwestern part of the state prepared for some snowfall into Tuesday morning.
The program is part of the Automated Vehicle Location system pilot, which was first announced back in October, and is meant to improve “PennDOT’s information on vehicle movement” and winter material usage.
By logging onto the 511PA website, the public can now see the location of more than 500 PennDOT plow trucks and more than 200 contracted rental trucks on-duty throughout the state in near real-time. Click here to go to 511pa.com.
However, officials say the program cannot show “the full breadth of the department’s services.”
PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in a press release, “During winter weather, interstates and expressways are our top priority. That means that we often move trucks from lower-traffic roads onto interstates, and those trucks won’t be shown on 511. Additionally, due to differing staff schedules, storms or equipment usage, the location of all of the trucks will not be visible at all times. We’re excited to educate the public about our operations with this pilot, but they won’t see all of our more than 2,000 trucks across the state.”
The City of Pittsburgh launched its own snow plow tracker last winter. It lets Pittsburgh residents track the movement of 120 vehicles assigned to remove ice and snow.
PennDOT has more than 2,200 department-force trucks, rents about 270 other trucks and maintains more than 40,000 miles of road.
Gov. Wolf says in a press release, “This initiative will improve PennDOT’s operations by looking for efficiencies in how the agency’s fleet is operating during the winter months, while promoting transparency by allowing the public access to this information. This is a step forward in showing Pennsylvanians how hard PennDOT is working to keep them safe during the winter season.”
Another element that crews say will give them more of a fighting chance than they had during the past two winter seasons: the supply of salt is a lot better given December’s warm weather.
“This year we’re better prepared because the salt supply is in good shape at this time,” said Stephen Shanley, Allegheny County’s Director of Public Works. “We have over 8,000 tons of salt available. This time last year we used about 4,300 ton and at this point we’ve used 1500.”