PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey vowed to improve snow removal ahead of a winter storm expected to drop several inches on Sunday.
Call it a baptism of snow. Gainey rode along with plow operators during the first major snow of his administration last week and saw firsthand how the effort came up short, leaving many side streets snow covered and the tires of residents spinning on the icy layer underneath.
“We learned a lot in our first response to snow removal and I’m here to announce today that we will get better,” he said.
Gainey and Acting Public Works Director Chris Hornstein held a press conference Friday to talk about how the city is preparing. Several residents complained after the first round of winter weather we saw this month. Many told us their streets went untouched after the snow fell.
The city will get a second chance beginning Sunday and on into Monday when between it expects between a half-foot to a foot of snow. The mayor is predicting a better performance. The fault, he said, lay not with the drivers but with the lack of resources provided them.
“It has become clear to me that we must make additional investments in our equipment and operations,” Gainey said.
The mayor promised to do better this time and better than years past.
“Our focus is on our goal of making sure all roadways in our city are safe and passable in a timely fashion,” he said.
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The Sunday, the crews will start early, treating the roads well in advance of the first flakes, 80 plows on the ready and the mayor has authorized unlimited overtime. The city will double the salt output from 400 to 1,000 tons per mile.
But the real changes will come for future storms, adding additional plow operators by training drivers from other departments and replacing old trucks. The city is awaiting the arrival of 17 new trucks hung up in supply chain bottlenecks. New Public Works Director Chris Hornstein said the average age of the plow fleet is 11 years old and should be closer to 5 or 6.
“Trucks frequently go down for maintenance issues during a snow event. That takes that truck and that driver off the road. If we were properly aged I would expect a significant increase in our ability to respond to an event,” he said.
Gainey encouraged residents to prepare themselves by driving slowly and keeping proper supplies in their cars.
The city said they do have a few drivers out because of COVID, but they don’t anticipate that having much of an impact on its efforts to keep streets clean.
“We just want to tell the residents we’re doing all that we can. We’re doing all that we can to get these streets plowed, and we won’t rest until we get it right,” Gainey said.MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Residents Complain Of Snow-Covered Roads; City Officials Defend Response
Stay with KDKA for the latest on how crews are preparing ahead of Sunday.