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Lengthy Stretch Of Arctic Air Taking A Toll Across Region

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The brilliant sun that bathed the first work day of the New Year gave the illusion of warmth on a day that was the polar opposite.

Marginal car batteries revealed their inadequacies.

"We usually do 80 to 100 calls with AAA service alone, and we're going 150-plus a day since the weather has changed," said Jeff Critchlow, Critchlow Auto Body service.

Critchlow's tow trucks have been rescuing drivers stranded by batteries, lock-outs and flat tires for days now.

"When it's cold like this, it will go flat a lot faster," he said. "The air dissipates a lot faster, and when it's cold and the tire is cold itself, the street's not warm, it will fail very, very fast."

AAA operators for the Western Pennsylvania region on Tuesday took more than 4,200 roadside assistance calls.

KDKA's Bob Allen Reports:

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The phones at Terry's Plumbing have also been pretty busy.

A crew from Terry's Plumbing was putting in a new gas line Tuesday after the cold weather cracked the old line and left residents without heat. Most of the calls have been for drain and water lines freezing. It's a very preventable problem, says Terry.

"Turn the heat up a little bit, try to get heat into the basement and on those cold spots. Whatever you have to do for that," Terry said. "Let the water drip, not a stream, but a little drip."

There was way too much water running down Evergreen Road before dawn on Tuesday morning, prompting the road to close and causing a mess on McKnight Road during the morning rush hour.

Allegheny County crews are treating roads with liquid calcium, which works best when temperatures get below 20.

Municipal buildings in Clairton and Verona have opened as warming centers. Also, the winter shelter for men at Smithfield United Church of Christ is open overnight.

The City of Pittsburgh is extending the hours at three of its warming centers.

The Homewood and Sheraden senior centers, and the South Side Market House will be open from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day through Friday.

Homewood Healthy Active Living Center
7321 Frankstown Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15208
Jan. 2-5, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

South Side Market House
12th St. & 1 Bedford Square, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Jan. 2-5, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Contact: 412-488-8404

Sheraden Healthy Active Living Center
720 Sherwood Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15204
Jan. 2-5, 8:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Contact: 412-777-5012

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says a valve failed, and had to be replaced, but the road will be open for Wednesday morning's rush hour. The water companies are scrambling due to deep freeze popping water mains.

"Everyday we've been having three to six a day, and we're very worried about this coming weekend," said Robert Weimar, the PWSA's director.

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