City continues to have issue with new salt truck equipment

Pittsburgh officials investigating reported problems with automated salt spreaders

PITTSBURGH — The snowfall Tuesday left some of Pittsburgh’s roads an icy mess, and to make matters worse, some Department of Public Work employees tell Target 11 they had problems with the new electronic salt regulators now installed in nearly every truck.

Mayor Bill Peduto acknowledged some issues with the 1.4 million dollar system that tracks routes by GPS and regulates the use of salt.

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“There’s going to be ups and downs. We’ll work through those. It’s the same with any new technology when it’s being implemented. But I feel very strongly that over the course of the next two years, our efficiency in being able to treat our streets will increase greatly,” Peduto said.

Target 11 first exposed problems last December, when workers complained it was slowing down at intersections and restarting too late, failing to leave enough salt.

Workers tell Target 11 that during the snow yesterday, some of the units regulating salt on pickup trucks suddenly shut down. On other trucks, they say the spinner was working but the auger failed to turn out any salt. They also say when the system shuts down, they have to turn off the truck to reboot it, leading to delays.

The DPW director said it’s not a systemwide problem but a minor issue that’s being dealt with, and he says no streets were compromised.

Peduto said he’s confident they’ll be able to work out the kinks.

“It’s an entire system that has been determined to become the most efficient and confident the next snowstorm that we have. It’ll be better, not perfect, but better. And then the next one a little bit better than that,” Peduto said.

Peduto said that his new chief of operations officer was actually out in the field on Wednesday during the snow squalls working to fix some of the problems.

Salt truck drivers say new equipment could mean unsafe roads this winter