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February 17, 2014

Wicked winter: Snowy weather taking toll on municipalities

JOHNSTOWN — Anyone trying to clear a driveway of the 3 to 6 inches of snow expected by this morning can identify with area street crews’ challenge: Where do you put all the snow?

As piles at intersections create visibility issues, parking spaces disappear and sidewalks get blocked, several municipalities have begun hauling snow out of the business districts.

“We’ve been hauling a little bit out,” Somerset Borough Manager Benedict G. Vinzani Jr. said.

“It goes to our public works department just outside the borough. There is some borough property there.”

Spreading the snow on the ground allows it to melt gradually and seep into the soil, Johnstown public works director Darby Sprincz said.

Although city crews have not removed any accumulated snow from the curbs and intersections this year, they have utilized an area atop Roxbury Park in recent years, Sprincz said.

In Ebensburg, snow has been hauled to property near the recreation complex and allowed to melt, Borough Manager Dan Penatzer said.

“We routinely haul it out of the downtown area and the intersections,” Penatzer said.

A bigger concern as the winter weather continues is a salt shortage across the region, several officials noted.

“We are out of salt,” Penatzer said. “It is not a budget problem. We buy out of the state contract like a lot of municipalities. We have exceeded our allotment, and we can’t get any more.”

Ebensburg does not usually use anti-skid, but officials are looking into that option, he noted.

Johnstown and Somerset have some salt remaining, but both have begun conserving, officials said.

Richland is out of salt, but hopes to get some more soon, spokeswoman Kim Stayrook said.

“We’ve have eight loads on order for over two weeks,” Stayrook said, noting Richland also joined the state contract.

“We haven’t exceeded our allotment, but we haven’t gotten all we ordered yet.”

None of the officials contacted sees a warm-up with rainfall forecast later this week as a major concern for flooding.

Sprincz said it should help the snow begin to melt gradually and seep into the soil.

“We are all hopeful for a slow melt-off so it does not create adverse conditions,” Vinzani said, noting Somerset’s crews are checking storm sewer catch-basins to be sure the runoff has some place to go.

Sprincz reminded city residents it’s a good idea to check the catch-basins near their homes, as well.

Randy Griffith is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

 

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