Road crews preparing to tackle Christmas Eve snow in Pittsburgh area

PITTSBURGH — With a snowstorm brewing for Christmas Eve, crews are preparing to tackle the winter weather that comes our way.

>>>STORY: Winter Weather Advisory issued ahead of Christmas Eve storm

Allegheny County

The Allegheny County Department of Public Works said it will have at least 24 salt trucks with plows out on the roads as soon as snow begins to accumulate.

Because of rain expected to fall ahead of the snow, officials said pretreating the roads with salt will not be an option.

>>RELATED STORY: White Christmas looks likely for the Pittsburgh

“We will continue to monitor the forecast and adjust our plans, as needed, to ensure continual coverage of our roads throughout the storm. That might include bringing in more drivers,” a county news release said.

Drivers are being urged to slow down as dropping temperatures, in addition to snow, follow the rain. It is also recommended to avoid sudden stops, increase following distance and be on the lookout for slick spots, especially on bridges and ramps.

City of Pittsburgh

Officials with the city’s Department of Public Works said employees who have volunteered to work on Christmas will be working around the clock to treat roads. That includes drivers, mechanics and support personnel.

City officials expect icy roads Thursday night so they will be using blue-tinted magnesium chloride as the temperatures continue to drop. Crews will also be spreading salt and using plows.

Port Authority officials said they will crews out clearing the busways starting around 8 p.m. There also concerns that ice could form on the overhead wires, impacting the T. It could block the electricity from reaching the car and cause them to lose power.

Butler County

Crews will be working until midnight Christmas when second shift takes over to continue keeping roads clear through the snowstorm in Butler County.

According to Butler County Maintenance Manager Mike Mattis, all 42 of the county’s trucks will be manned and operating. Roads cannot be pretreated because the rain would wash everything away. He said there is enough manpower and materials to keep the roads clear.

Mattis wants to remind drivers that if they come across a snow plow to please keep their distance and don’t try to pass it.


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation District 10, which covers areas including Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson counties, said it is prepared with plow trucks and other equipment. Salt, anti-skid and other materials are in good supply, officials said.

PennDOT crews will be working around the clock, if necessary, to keep roads maintained.

Officials said PennDOT crews generally will not pretreat with salt brine when a storm is forecast to start as rain, which will wash the material away. They said the forecast will be closely monitored to determine the best treatment to keep roads passable.

Additionally there are some major impacts to traffic over the holiday on state highways:

Effective 3:00 PM on Thursday, December 24, vehicle restrictions will be implemented reflecting Level 1 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan on the following roadways:

  • The entire length Interstate 90; and
  • Interstate 79 from Interstate 80 to Interstate 90.

Effective 7:00 PM on Thursday, December 24, vehicle restrictions will be implemented reflecting Level 1 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan on Interstate 376 westbound from Interstate 279 (Fort Pitt Tunnel) to Interstate 79. Under Level 1 restrictions, the following vehicles are not permitted on affected roadways:

  • Tractors without trailers;
  • Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded enclosed trailers, open trailers or tank trailers;
  • Tractors towing unloaded or lightly loaded tandem trailers;
  • Enclosed cargo delivery trucks that meet the definition of a CMV;
  • Passenger vehicles (cars, SUV’s, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers;
  • Recreational vehicles/motorhomes;
  • School buses, commercial buses and motor coaches; and
  • motorcycles.

Effective 4:00 PM on Thursday, December 24, vehicle restrictions reflecting Level 3 of the commonwealth’s weather event vehicle restriction plan will be implemented on the entire length of Interstate 90. On roadways with Level 3 restrictions in place, no commercial vehicles are permitted EXCEPT loaded single trailers with chains or approved Alternate Traction Devices. Additionally, all school buses, commercial buses, motor coaches, motorcycles, RVs/motorhomes and passenger vehicles (cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, etc.) towing trailers are not permitted on affected roadways while restrictions are in place.

Speed limits would be restricted to 45 mph on these roadways for all vehicles while restrictions are in place, and commercial vehicles not affected by the restrictions must move to the right lane. Additional speed restrictions on other interstates could be added depending on changing conditions.

Power Companies

Officials with West Penn Power said they’ll be on the lookout for vehicles sliding into power poles throughout the night because of possible icy conditions. Additionally, the rain could soften the ground, allowing trees to fall on power lines as the snow starts falling as well. Both West Penn Power and Duquesne Light say they’ll have extra crews on standby.

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