ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — No matter where you live in Western Pennsylvania, there is simply too much water these days.
“You have this constant runoff all winter,” said Penndot Geotechnical Engineer Jonathan Moses. “With all the wet weather we’re having and it not being cold enough to freeze where it would normally be a spring thaw, it’s constantly hitting our soils and ground conditions with this extra moisture.”
All that runoff has made its way through the ground and found nowhere to go.
“There’s a lot of mines and springs. So when we get record rainfall, those springs, the flow is increased and the mine levels go up. And that often can leak onto the streets,” City of Pittsburgh Chief Operating Officer Kinsey Casey said.
Fair Acres Avenue in Beechview has a constant flow across the asphalt in front of Arlene and John Shanks’ home.
“For two years, we couldn’t go down that street in the winter,” Arlene said.
And Pittsburgh is far from alone.
The issue of runoff causing freezing problems on road is as widespread as landslides.
Penndot Allegheny County Maintenance Manager Lori Musto said, “We’re starting to see runoff through the hillsides that we haven’t seen in the past.”
While they study the problem spots, trying to manage the water is about the only recourse.
“You could stop one and water finds the path of least resistance and it will come out in a different location,” Musto said.
So Musto’s crews are out, “Countywide, we have our operators constantly patrolling looking for any new runoff issues, any runoff issues on their routes and we will be out salting as the temperatures drop.”
The only thing that will stop the runoff freezing threat is a dry period. So until then, Musto says if you see a wet sheen, just assume it’s black ice.
The battle against the runoff refreeze is also not a one-night fight.
“I get a report every night,” Casey said. “And I look and see that there’s salt being dropped in various parts of the city, even on days when it hasn’t snowed or rained at all.”