By John Shumway

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – You may not be ready for winter weather, but the city is already making plans.

They’re trying to figure out ways to update and modernize the snow removal process.

The idea is to get to your street sooner, employing technology and streamlining the system.

Snow removal is the Achilles’ heel of local governments because people are passionate about their streets.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“Absolutely, they call in a day before and want to have it plowed or salted and they put in their reservations,” Pittsburgh Public Works Director Mike Gable said.

So, even though the calendar has barely turned to October, the City of Pittsburgh is already preparing for the first snowfall by sending a proposal to City Council, which would dramatically upgrade the system.

“We are giving our guys the technology they should have had five years ago and hopefully they will be able to do their job even better,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

If council approves the three-year, $1,453,924 agreement with Quetica LLC out of Bloomington, Minnesota, Pittsburgh will move into the modern age of snow removal.

Gone will be the handwritten routes on clipboards. Gable says each truck will be equipped with a GPS iPad.

“It’s going to be like having a GPS in your car,” he said.

The iPads will be loaded with all the routes and will give the driver turn-by-turn instructions. It also makes it easy for the routes to be changed for efficiency.

The spreaders on the trucks will be computer controlled to make the application of salt more uniform and adjusted for conditions.

The traditional white rock salt will be replaced by blue dyed magnesium chloride salt that not only will be clearly evident when spread, but also is more effective to lower temperatures.

Gable believes, “better salt, better application and we think we’ll be able to conserve the amount of salt we use on our snow events.”

In fact, he estimates the city will use about one-third less salt per year.

All of the changes include an updated plow tracker so everything can be monitored by city hall and made available to residents online.

If City Council gives its approval, which could come on Oct. 16, the mayor hopes to have the system up and operating by the first snowfall and completely phased in by Jan. 1.