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

    Updated:

    PITTSBURGH - New equipment upgrades have some winter truck drivers in Pittsburgh worried that roads might not be kept as clean as drivers are used to.

    The upgrades have to do with a GPS system recently installed in the trucks that salt Pittsburgh's roads.

    To compound matters, Severe Weather Team 11 chief meteorologist Stephen Cropper is forecasting more snow this year than last.

    According to the city, this is not uncommon and there are always a few bumps in the road when rolling out a new system.


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    At the public works garage, workers are outfitting all salt trucks with the new tracking devices and regulators that control the distribution of salt.

    Some drivers told 11 Investigates they've had problems with the new $1.4 million system.

    Drivers said the salt spreader stops spinning when they come to a stop sign or red light and they say it doesn't get going again until they're through the intersection, leaving the intersection untreated.

    "We got the feedback, and immediately started addressing it with the company, as with any new product as you roll something out, there's going to be hiccups," said Dan Gilman, chief of staff for Mayor Bill Peduto.

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    Gilman said that problem is being corrected.

    Drivers are also concerned because they're no longer be able to control the amount of salt released and they say some roads freeze faster and need extra salt.

    Peduto said that information will ultimately be incorporated into the routes.

    "We're not looking to have just machines take over our plowing," Peduto said.

    According to the city, the GPS system, complete with route screens, will allow them to relocate crews to areas that may be experiencing heavy snowfall or more icing problems.

    "Amazingly, there are times that the South Hills gets hit and the East End does not," Gilman said. "I can send drivers from the East End, to the South. They can jump in a truck and have a GPS tell them where to turn even if they don't know the streets."

    Gilman told Channel 11 the companies installing the new systems have a proven track record, working with cities across the country.

    RELATED: Chief meteorologist Stephen Cropper gives his winter weather outlook for this year

    "I'm confident that it's going to be an improved system. That doesn't mean that we won't have hiccups, and things to iron out, but I'm very confident that we are improving system both for our employees and residents and business owners," Gilman said.

    Under the new system, the amount of salt that's put down will be controlled from a central location.

    Drivers also told Channel 11 they've had very little training on the system, which the city said will happen as the system is phased in over the next year.


     

     

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