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Winter Storm, Salt Shortage Present Challenges For Road Crews

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The latest round of winter weather moved into the area Monday night and kept road crews busy.

Areas to the north of Pittsburgh saw the most snow overnight and into this morning.

In Butler County, a light snow overnight turned to freezing rain and then heavy snow by morning.

In Cranberry, blowing snow created near white out conditions around 6:30 a.m.

The slick roads caused problems for drivers on Route 19.

On Interstate 79, slick conditions caused an armored truck to run off the road. No one was injured when it rolled onto its side.

Slushy roads caused drivers to hit the brakes on interstate 79 South, which backed up traffic for miles.

Most of the roads were in better shape by 10 a.m.

People living in Zelienople are hoping warmer temperatures later this week will help to melt the snow that has been accumulating in mounds on the sides of their streets.

In Pittsburgh, Public Works crews were out in full force overnight, making the most of the limited salt supply they had. However, after a burst of heavy snow early this morning, many city roads were left snow-covered and slick.

On Edgerton Avenue, a truck slid down the ice covered street. Just minutes earlier, a car slid in the intersection trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle and ended up in the front yard of a home.

Around 7 a.m., heavy snow created whiteout conditions and it was back to square one on city streets after hours of cleanu. Sheets of ice or snow covered.

On the South Side Slopes, emergency vehicles trying to leave a scene were stuck for a brief time off Mission Street because of slick conditions.

On South 18th Street, one driver extremely was lucky after skidding just inches from another car.

While it may not be needed in the coming days, the city is expecting additional shipments of salt this week.

On Monday, 500 tons of rock salt was delivered. Pittsburgh's Chief Operations Officer Guy Costa said it takes about 1,000 tons to effectively treat one inch of snow on all city roads.

Due to the shortage, they were forced to mix salt with crushed limestone and sand.

"To mix the salt with the anti-skid materials and spray it with liquid calcium and lay it onto the streets to open up the streets. Typically, in a storm like this, we like to have 3,000 tons. We're working with one-third of what we'd like to have, but we're going to have to make it work," Costa said.

Costa also said to allow 24 hours for all roads to be cleared.

Costa joined the KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert and John Shumway to discuss how the city was handling the morning snow storm.

He also commented on diminished salt supplies saying, "We typically use 40 to 42,000 tons [of salt] a year, so far we're at 52,000."

Costa adds that they will work on a contingency plan if next winter is as bad as this one.

Guy Costa

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