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City, Westmoreland Co. Preparing For Worst With Incoming Storm

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With six inches to a foot of snow possibly heading our way Sunday night, city crews are preparing.

The Department of Public Works warns that come Monday, drivers could face treacherous road conditions.

KDKA's Christine D'Antonio Reports:

Most of the snow is expected to hit after 6 p.m. Sunday and the public works department says crews will take over working 12-hour shifts. Additionally, 50 trucks will be out overnight and an extra 15 will be added Monday morning.

Public Works officials say the incoming storm is considered a Level 3 – so crews will pay extra attention to clearing emergency and primary routes.

City of Pittsburgh Operations Director Guy Costa says Public Works crews are prepared.

"We're going to keep plowing," he said. "Take care of all of our primary roads first overnight into mornings, jump to secondary routes."

Costa says with this round of weather, the focus will be to plow as much as possible before laying down some of the 2,000 tons of salt and 1,000 tons of anti-skid mixture the city has been able to replenish.

He's asking drivers to stay off the roads Sunday night into Monday morning.

"The less cars on the roads, the quicker we can get the streets clear," Costa said.

People who work downtown were already figuring out their game plan for the start of next week.

KDKA's Christine D'Antonio Reports:

"If it's snowing that bad I'm just going to stay at home, bring my computer home with me, just stay at home," said one person. "I'm not going to deal with it."

"I usually like to walk to work. I usually take the incline down and walk over the bridge, but it's too cold to do that so I'm spending a lot of money parking in these expensive garages downtown," said another person.

Speaking of expenses, Costa says this brutal winter has caused the city to go 25 percent over budget for snow and salt removal.

Meanwhile, there had been a hope at least amongst many in the Westmoreland County Public Works Department that since the last significant snowfall salt supplies would be replenished.

But it turns out, as we face a potential major winter storm this weekend, that's hardly the case.

"If we have a major event that lasts two to three days, we're going to be out of salt," said Jeannette Mayor Richard Jacobelli. "One-hundred ton of salt doesn't last very long, and that's what we have."

But this time, the region may be dealing with more than a nuisance snow, so there's a plan in Jeannette.

"We're going to concentrate mostly on the intersections and the hill areas," said Mayor Jacobelli.

KDKA's Ross Guidotti Reports:

No salt deliveries are headed there anytime soon.

"I understand Hempfield Township is going to have a time because they're not getting the salt," he added.

As a matter of fact, Hempfield Township Public Works Director Mike Volpe said, "We even offered to pick material up, and they said, 'No, we're not doing any extra shipping and you can't come pick it up.'"
Salt supplier, American Rock Salt, did show up Friday afternoon.

"We got 75 tons today," said Volpe. "We'll need 1,000 ton, and we've not near that. We've got 400 ton of salt here."

The reality is most of the communities in Westmoreland County are once again short on salt.

Given that, public works crews all over are asking drivers to take it easy on the roads.

"We're going to do what we have to do to survive the big storm," said Volpe.

As for Hempfield Township could fine American Rock Salt $100 a day for not meeting their load drop off requirements, but as Volpe put it, what's $100 a day when it comes to the public safety.

And as road crews and local officals prepare, so are local residents.

At Evey Hardware in Bethel Park, there are two bins that hold 100 tons of salt each.

KDKA's Brenda Waters Reports:

On Friday morning, they were both full; but by the end of the day, there wasn't much left at all.

"There is probably not much else to sell for a winter storm, and my supplier is out," said Andy Amrhein, of Evey Hardware. "We had 400 bags of rock salt, 10 left."

If the snowstorm hits as hard as forecasted and you don't have winter weather supplies like salt and snow blowers, you may be out of luck.

At Rolliers Hardware in Mount Lebanon, they are all out of ice melts. But that hasn't stopped the worried, the desperate and the concerned from searching.

"I've been to many places," said Susan Loreski, of Carnegie.

Many hardware stores across the area are out of salt and what shovels are left are on sale.

Many stores are beginning to think about spring.

So with the flower pots rolling and the grills and charcoal waiting to be purchased, it looks like we will have to endure at least one more storm.

KDKA's Brenda Waters Reports:

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