PennDOT, Alle-Kiski municipalities treat roads differently when snow begins to fall


The first heavy snow of the season blanketed the Alle-Kiski Valley on Thursday evening, leaving motorists with a mix of road conditions for their Friday morning commute.

Nearly 2 inches of snow fell in New Kensington, and Westmoreland County saw 2-5 inch snowfall in the Laurel Highlands. Overall, the Pittsburgh area saw between 1.5 and 2 inches of snow, according to Jenna Lake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Road salt is a key ingredient used for its anti-icing capabilities.

According to PennDOT, road conditions involving snow can vary depending on whether or not roads are pretreated with a brine mixture before the first snowflakes hit the ground. The water evaporates from the brine, and the remaining salt helps prevent ice from sticking to the road surface.

PennDOT drivers in brine trucks began pretreating all highways in Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties and Highway 28 from Wednesday and continued all day Thursday, according to Lori Musto, deputy director of maintenance of PennDOT District 11.

“It makes a big difference if the roads are treated with brine,” Musto said.

The cost of the pretreatment is about $ 6.50 per mile of track and the brine is about $ 8.40 per mile of track.

How municipalities deal with snow

Pretreatment is a luxury that the municipalities of Alle-Kiski Valley cannot afford.

None of the cities contacted on Friday said they had never used brine pretreatment on local roads because of the cost.

Allegheny Township Supervisor Jamie Morabito said the township pre-treats the roads he is responsible for, but not with brine.

“They’ll be pretreated with salt before the storm hits, and it’s just as effective with less equipment,” Morabito said.

In New Kensington, city clerk Dennis Scarpiniti said the roads had never been pretreated since he was hired in 1987.

But the city offers 24-hour salt truck snow removal during storms.

“We start as soon as we hear that things are going well. They are doing a good job, ”said Scarpiniti.

The New Kensington Public Works Department employs 11 people and maintains approximately 54 miles of roads, including Highway 366 to the Tarentum Bridge.

Leechburg Mayor Wayne Dobos said Leechburg police officers monitor road conditions and notify borough officials when they believe it is necessary to clear snow and salt the roads.

The borough maintains a dump truck equipped with a snow plow and a salt spreader and a 1-ton pickup truck to navigate the narrow streets.

Two full-time road crews cover approximately 10 miles of roads in Leechburg.

Joyce Hanz is a writer for Tribune-Review. You can contact Joyce at 724-226-7725, [email protected] or via Twitter .