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Mayor Gainey Vows To Have 'Streets Clear By Tonight'

By: Andy Sheehan and Jennifer Borrasso/KDKA-TV

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey vowed to do better, and in the wake of the first major snowstorm on his watch, he says he's pleased with how his Public Works Department has performed. But many residents say their streets have yet to be touched.

"Let me thank all the drivers and laborers of the Department of Public Works," Gainey said. "I think they did a great job. It was all hands on deck. They worked throughout the night to ensure the streets were clear. And we know we have a lot more streets to hit, but they're out there. They worked throughout the night. We did get hit this morning with more snow. I think there are one or two more inches they're predicting. Our goal is to have these streets clear by tonight."

By midday, they were able to get many of the main thoroughfares clear but not the side streets like Sunnyland Avenue in Overbrook where kids used the unplowed street for sledding and folks there were facing more onerous tasks.

Child sleds on unplowed road in Overbrook
(Photo: KDKA)

"Terrible. Terrible. That little snow we had was just as bad, took two or three days to get our street open. Now we've got a lot of snow," Larry Schweinsberg said.

Public Works Director Chris Hornstein said with the continual onslaught of snow, the crews did all they could do to keep the main streets passable, and couldn't start hitting the side streets until early Monday afternoon.

"There's 1,200 miles of city streets. A lot of them are side streets in neighborhoods, so it's going to take us a bit to get there," he said.

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In Sheraden five hours after the snow finished falling, the roads were still untouched.

"If it wasn't for the guy at the top of the street that has his own snowplow we would never get anything done here," said Joan Deller.

Matt Wicks said he couldn't drive to his home on Sacramento Avenue, so he parked his car seven blocks away and walked.

"It's very frustrating. Very. We are trapped in here. We can't get out," said Ron Voshall.

Calling it "standard operating procedure," Wick said it'll probably be two or three days until he get can his car back to his house.

"It's kind of like we don't exist up here," said Wick.

WATCH: KDKA's Andy Sheehan reports

Around 7:30, KDKA crews saw a plow on Narcissus Avenue.

Gainey said he's giving the city workers high marks so far in their efforts the last couple of days, adding that he believes they will have the streets cleared by Tuesday morning's rush hour.

The mayor was full of praise not just for the snowplow operators, but the citizens themselves for staying indoors Sunday evening, allowing the crews to do their work. He said they got a good jump on the early snow while folks stayed in to watch the Steelers game, and they now are trying to catch up after getting several more inches of snow Monday morning.

City Council Public Works Chairman Anthony Coghill is lobbying for more trucks and operators but says the plow operators have done a very good job with the resources they have.

"I think Mayor Gainey has come in and motivated the workers by visiting them at their warehouses and I think they're responding to that," Coghill said.

And Schweinsberg said he's willing to give the new mayor the benefit of the doubt.

"It's been bad for 40 plus years. He's only been in there a couple of minutes. We'll give him a chance. Talk to me next year. I'll beat him up then," he said.

Pittsburgh City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith says the city is doing the best it can with limited resources. They are waiting for more than a dozen new trucks to arrive.

"The problem is complicated by aging equipment, but City Council has allocated $13 million for new equipment. It's not in yet due to COVID," said Kail-Smith.

Jake Pawlak, director of management and budget, says Gainey is committed to improving the snow response. As of Monday evening, he said most streets in the city have been treated once and those that haven't will be treated soon.

Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts. Think happy thoughts ...

Posted by KDKA-TV | CBS Pittsburgh on Monday, January 17, 2022
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