PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says the city will take immediate action to improve snow removal and road treatment operations.
The mayor’s response comes after many residents complained their streets weren’t plowed or treated for days following this weekend’s storm.
Ed Nelson has lived on Kennebec Street for 24 years. He said an unplowed road is the norm.
“Normally they come partway up the street, turn off and never come to the crest. The highest, steepest part of this hill,” Nelson said.
Today, Peduto said the city has failed its residents.
“The City clearly needs to do a much better job addressing snow and ice on streets across Pittsburgh. Our workers did their best, working around the clock for days, but we need to give them and our residents the tools to provide better service and support in the future,” Peduto said.
Now, Peduto says the city will be taking four actions to improve their snow removal plan:
“First, we will invest in more road salt and liquid calcium chloride, and study ways to improve the chemical composition of the ice-fighting materials that the Department of Public Works is placing on roadways. Most streets throughout the city were treated with salt and chemicals this past weekend but due to low temperatures and other factors the materials did not clear streets nearly well enough.
Second, we will work with our Department of Innovation and Performance to increase our public presence on nights and weekends and ensure that resident complaints are efficiently received, responded to, and routed to the appropriate City officials.
Third, my administration will meet with DPW partners to explore ways to get more drivers onto streets, particularly on weekends, nights and holidays similar to last weekend. Our employees performed at their best the last four days – working back to back 12-hour shifts responding to a nightmare scenario of rain, freezing rain, snow and ice – but we need to find new ways to send more of them onto the streets and provide Pittsburgh residents the services they deserve.
Finally, we will issue a request for proposals for a redesign of our snow removal routes to make sure they are being addressed in the smartest, most efficient and most productive manner.”
Greenfield resident Noel Tague said the street was so bad she had to help her neighbor up the hill.
“She’ll have to walk back up the hill and down the hill to get to her car. Just like we had to do this morning to get my son to school,” Tague said.
KDKA’s David Highfield reports —
Dana Chavarrie, of Arlington, claims her section of Salisbury Street hasn’t been touched.
“It’s very frustrating,” Chavarrie said. “I don’t understand. They come down this part of Fernleaf, and they stop … they always miss this road over here. All the time.”
Chavarrie hopes there is a better response, but is skeptical until she sees action.
“I don’t think it’s going to get any better,” she said.
The main roads in Beechview were better than the side roads and that was also the case on Mt. Washington.
Video from the KDKA-TV Mobile Weather Lab showed snow-covered side streets, but a passable Grandview Avenue.
Public Works Director Mike Gable said crews having been out plowing and salting the roads since Monday afternoon. He said part of the problem is the bitter temperatures and constant snow we’ve been dealing with.
“It’s still the same rock salt and calcium chloride, but again at zero degrees, they’re not going to work. All we can do is put material down. Try to give people traction and when the temperatures are right, the material is going to work,” Gable said.
Meanwhile, Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who’s been critical of the Peduto Administration’s response to the last two snowstorms, is calling for an overhaul of snow removal operations. But KDKA has learned that many plow operators just didn’t come to work this weekend, leaving the city shorthanded.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan reports —
The city says many drivers who were asked to work overtime stayed home.
“We needed help. It was all hands on deck, but unfortunately it wasn’t all hands on deck,” Pittsburgh Operations Director Guy Costa said.
While the city is looking to discipline those no-show employees, Smith says the people want the administration to refocus on providing core services.
The city is currently in negotiations with its Public Works drivers, who recently rejected a contract offer, but their teamster representative, Paul Kapetanovich, denied any job action or large scale call-offs.
“Everybody I know that got called came in,” Kapetanovich said. “If drivers did call off, then maybe because they’ve working around the clock for the last few days, and I’m aware of drivers who called me because they weren’t being called in.”
Peduto says he’ll take steps to make sure the city is not short-handed again.
“We’re meeting with the unions to be able to make sure that workers who are scheduled show up and if they don’t show up, there’s some sort of action that we can take,” he said.
But the mayor also conceded that even with a full complement of workers, Public Works has problems with equipment and salting compounds that must be addressed.
“We want to see higher numbers of trucks, more amount salt, and work rules so that workers who are scheduled will be there,” he said.