Mayor Gainey promises improved snow removal before storm

PITTSBURGH — After riding along with Public Works plow drivers during last week’s storm, Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is promising better snow removal service as the city braces for another, larger storm.

“We learned a lot in our first response to snow removal,” he said at a press conference Friday. “I’m here to announce today that we will get better.”

Acting Public Works Director Chris Hornstein said the city has more than 80 plows prepared and ready for the storm.

“We are mobilizing all of our resources for this snow event,” he said, noting that 40-70 plow drivers will be on the roads at any given time, starting at 2 p.m. Sunday.

“Recently we increased our salt level on our trucks, and we’ve given our drivers more capability and clearance to apply as much salt as they feel is appropriate on the streets,” said Hornstein.

With this storm, Public Works is not only battling the elements, but also what Mayor Gainey called years of deferred upkeep.

“We are working to undo years of disinvestment,” he said.

“The biggest problem is the aging condition of our fleet,” added Hornstein. “Our average age of our fleet is 11 years. If our fleet was properly aged, the average age would be about five to six years.”

Despite that, shopper Janet Cholewinski is not worried about the roads.

“They do a fairly good job and if you don’t have to go anywhere, you can wait until the roads are clear,” she said.

She was out with her husband Jerry, getting ready for the snow.

“We bought the last snowblower in this size,” she said.

In addition to the plow drivers, the city will have another 80 people clearing steps, sidewalks and bridges.

Allegheny County Public Works plans to have 30 plow drivers out on the roads throughout the storm.