Two western Pennsylvania motorists have complained that their vehicles were hit by falling snow and ice pushed off highway overpasses by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plows.
PennDOT spokeswoman Erie Waters-Trasatt told Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE that incidents like those reported Dec. 29 in neighboring Butler and Mercer counties aren't believed to be widespread. But PennDOT is advising its staff about the problem.
TribLIVE reported that the passenger in an SUV was hit in the eye when snow was pushed off a Route 19 bridge in Butler County onto Route 422 below.
A more serious incident happened the same day on Route 173 near Grove City when Scott Stefannus’ daughter was driving under an Interstate 80 overpass.
“As she got to the I-80 overpass, snow just destroyed the car,” Stefannus said.
His daughter’s car's roof and hood were buckled, and two windows were shattered.
Stefannus said his daughter managed to make it home, but she was shaken up and suffered minor injuries.
“We’re fortunate that nothing serious happened to her,” Stefannus said.
PennDOT released the following statement regarding the complaints: “For whatever reason, a big chunk of snow got caught on the wing (of the plow) and then kicked a certain way off the bridge.
"We haven't changed our policy at all, but we are reiterating them and having safety talks with all our operators."
PennDOT officials said their drivers are trained to plow snow to the side of a bridge until there is no more room on the shoulder. Crews are then supposed to remove the built-up snow with a loader.