Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Crews Race Ahead of Next Storm

Most school districts in the region are closed today and colleges and universities are following suit. Pittsburgh Officials apparently asked the universities to remain closed for a second day today as crews try to dig out from this weekend’s storm before the next wave hits today. Allegheny County, Penn Dot and National Guard personnel aided City public works crews Monday. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has put the call out to private contractors with snow removal capabilities and heavy equipment to contact the city. A declaration of emergency allows Pittsburgh to hire those contractors without having to go through the normal bidding process. City 311 staff will continue to work with public safety personnel and PA National Guardsmen to take care of citizens in need of transportation. The 311 center is now being staffed 24 hours a day. The city continues to operate warming centers for those without power. The locations of those centers can be found at the city’s website. Public workers Director Rob Kaczorowski is pleading with residents to not throw snow back onto the street when they are digging out their cars and driveways.
As more streets are cleared and widened the Port Authority of Allegheny County has been able to put more buses o the roads. PAT spokesperson Jim Ritchie says of their 160 routes, 22 are still out of service and 40 are running on detoured or limited routes. He says PAT trucks are out on the roads monitoring the situation and the Authority will add more routes as the roads become clear. “T” service has been restored to the Steel Plaza and Wood Street stations. A Power outage forced the light rail to stop at the First Ave. station yesterday. The “T’s” 52 Allentown route will not provide service nor will a bus shuttle be provided. Parts of the route are impassable and stranded vehicles are blocking the line. Ritchie says PAT is at the mercy of the municipalities, county and state to make the routes passable. Ritchie warns riders that commute times could grow if the rush hour snarls as I did for thousands yesterday. As the next round of snow enters the area, PAT will continue to assess the situation and adjust routes as needed. Ritchie says they are updating the Port Authority’s website regularly with the latest route information.
Lee Hendricks of the National Weather Service says the storm should hit this morning and grow in intensity as the day progresses. He expects to see 6-10 inches on the ground by Wednesday afternoon. Hendricks says there is a conveyor belt of warm, moist air bringing snow to Pittsburgh.

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