City Announces Updates to Snow Operations

PITTSBURGH, PA (January 4, 2021)  Mayor William Peduto and City Council Public Works Committee Chairman Anthony Coghill announced new snow operations procedures effective immediately to improve the City’s response and treatment of city streets during inclement winter weather. The new procedures are part of the City's commitment that every street in the city should be treated quickly and effectively.  

Operational improvements include updates to staffing procedures, improvements to Snow Plow Tracker, and working to ensure the right amount of salt is distributed on streets. The Mayor’s Office worked with the Department of Public Works (DPW), Pittsburgh Joint Collective Bargaining Committee (PJCBC) chairman Joseph Laquatra and his designated representatives, and Councilman Coghill to develop the new plans.   

The City and PJCBC, who represents hundreds of DPW employees, developed a sidebar union agreement establishing an improved procedure for communicating with and assigning staff during snow events to ensure an appropriate number of vehicles are out to treat and clear streets. The procedure includes a new mass texting and robocall system to make sure employees are reached and notified of overtime opportunities faster.  When they receive the call or text, employees are able to volunteer for available slots. If overtime slots are not filled voluntarily, the process moves to assigning mandated overtime to employees by reverse seniority. If available staffing slots remain unfilled, the City can then call in private contractors.   

During the Christmas snowfall, data from vehicles who were in a specific mode for salt distribution was not being shared to Snow Plow Tracker, so there were several trucks on the road that were not showing up on the map. This discrepancy has been addressed and trucks who are in this mode will now show up on the tracker. The Snow Plow Tracker website has been updated to advise users that not all plowing vehicles may be visible on the map when activated. Snow Plow Tracker is an important part of the City's commitment to transparency and accountability. 

Additionally, DPW identified that some streets during the last snowfall were receiving inadequate amounts of salt from trucks. Public Works staff is working with supervisors, heavy equipment maintenance, and vendors to make sure that the right amount of salt is being dropped when trucks are working their routes.  

"Keeping our roads safe for all users during winter storms is a fundamental responsibility of city government. We will continue to use technology, best practices, and partnerships with our workforce and unions to provide the public the services they deserve," said Mayor William Peduto.  

“The Mayor and I are committed to improving the treatment of our roads for all residents and neighborhoods in District 4 and the City at large, and the changes being announced today are the result of a review of operational procedures and will result in clear and direct improvement in snow treatment,” said Councilman Coghill. “I am appreciative of the work of the administration, the PJCBC, and DPW to address these issues following December’s record setting storms.” 

This operations update builds upon additional improvements that have been implemented in recent years, including training additional drivers, reviewing 311 reports to ensure equitable service in our neighborhoods, and adjusting optimized routes to address recurring areas of concern. 


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Molly Onufer
Communications Director
Mayor's Office