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Area road crews doing ‘best they can’ with unrelenting winter weather

Photo of Francesca Sacco
By Francesca Sacco
Staff writer
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
A PennDOT plow tries to keep up with the heavy snow on Route 19 in North Strabane Township Monday morning during rush hour. A snowstorm dumped as much as 5 inches of snow in parts of Washington County Monday, causing many accidents and treacherous road conditions. Most school districts initially announced a two-hour delay, but when snow continued to fall, all but Burgettstown decided to cancel classes for the day. Shown above are images from Washington Monday morning. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
A man tries unsuccessfully to push a vehicle up the hill on North Main Street in Washington Monday morning. Order a Print
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Two men pull while a woman pushes a shopping cart full of groceries through the snow on the sidewalk along Jefferson Avenue in Washington Monday morning. A snowstorm dumped as much as 5 inches of snow in parts of Washington County Monday morning, causing many accidents and treacherous road conditions. Most school districts initially announced a two-hour delay, but when snow continued to fall, all but Burgettstown decided to cancel classes for the day.
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter This man made good use of a telescopic snow scraper to clear off the roof of a van on Broad Street in Washington Monday morning.
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Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Two men jumped out of their car to help push a vehicle that couldn't make it up the hill on North Main Street at Walnut Street in Washington Monday morning. Traffic was backed up, with a few cars able to reach Walnut Street while others had to turn around and find another route until a PennDOT plow cleared the way. A snowstorm dumped as much as 5 inches of snow in parts of Washington County Monday morning, causing many accidents and treacherous road conditions. Most school districts initially announced a two-hour delay, but when snow continued to fall, all but Burgettstown decided to cancel classes for the day.
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Road crews throughout Washington County have begun to ration their salt supplies as more winter storms are added to the area’s forecast.


Charleroi Borough Manager Donn Henderson reached out to the community Monday via social media to ask for patience. Henderson said continued snowstorms and delayed salt deliveries have depleted supplies.


“We are trying to keep people informed,” he said. “When it continues to snow like this, people don’t think that we are out plowing. But we are.”


Charleroi street foreman Tom Santoro said he expects his next salt delivery to arrive today.


“I ordered it last Monday,” Santoro said. “We will continue to ration (the salt) as long as it snows, and just keep plowing.”


Santoro said the borough still has between 50 and 75 tons of salt left, but the rest of this week’s forecast has him nervous.


“We went through more than we did last year,” he said.


Henderson said the borough already has hit its total budget for salt, and trucks are running around the clock.


“If this continues, things will get worse before they get better,” he said.


North Franklin Township has the same concerns. Supervisors Chairman Silvio Passalacqua said the township is “just about out of salt.”


“PennDOT is taking the majority of (what is available),” he said. “What little we have left, we had them mix it with cinders.”


Passalacqua said road crews have been instructed to salt the hills and intersections in order to provide traction.


“We’ve got three guys out there,” he said. “The trucks are going by, and it’s getting covered again.”


Today’s forecast calls for a mixture of snow, rain and ice late in the evening and into the early hours Wednesday. The National Weather Service is predicting an additional accumulation of two inches of snow on top of the three to five inches that blanketed the area late Sunday and early Monday, and more snow is expected for the weekend.


Monday’s accumulation made the morning commute tricky. State police reported several minor crashes, and that a tractor-trailer jackknifed on Interstate 79 near the south junction with Interstate 70. Most municipal police departments were busy with calls early in the morning. Nearly all area school districts were closed.


Tonight’s forecast has Passalacqua feeling uneasy.


“We’d better get salt quick,” he said. “We are supposed to get a shipment Wednesday, but I’m hoping it comes (Tuesday). We are trying to make the best out of a bad situation.”


Peters Township Public Works Director Peter Overcashier agrees. Overcashier said he directed his road crews to salt only hills and intersections.


“We’re using 50 percent salt and 50 percent anti-skid,” he said. “I’m real concerned. I’m not sure how we’re going to handle it. We may have just enough to get through.”


Overcashier said he’s waiting on a 750-ton salt delivery.


“I’m not sure when it will get here,” he said.


Over in Chartiers Township, Manager Jodi Noble said she’s on the hunt for salt. Although the township got a delivery this past weekend, and just ordered 175 tons, Noble said it will need more.


“With the storm, we went through a good bit of it,” she said. “It’s been a tough winter, but we are doing the best we can.”


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