South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

City saved $1M with new salting methods


While summer is in full swing, numbers from last winter show the City of Pittsburgh saved more than $1 million from new road salt distribution methods adopted by the Department of Public Works.

Historically DPW has applied 917 tons of salt for every inch of snow. This year using new technology and a different salt mixture DPW used only 376 tons of salt per inch.

Salt costs about $88 per ton, and it snowed 21.7 inches in the 2019-2020 winter season. Previously, treating the roads would have cost the city roughly $1.75 million in materials. Last winter it cost the city $718,000.

"From adopting the city's first snow plow tracker in 2015 to deploying technological and mechanical upgrades to our snow plows, the changes we have made have not only expanded city services and transparency but saved us money too. The technology is already paying for itself and will only lead to more savings year after year," Mayor William Peduto said.

Under DPW Director Mike Gable the department has moved to a more efficient road salt that is effective at lower temperatures and is tinted blue so residents can easily see where it has been applied.

New snow-fighting technologies include salt spreaders that are tuned with calibrated application rates, improved reporting tools to show treatment and material usage, and smarter snow removal routes using GPS guidance. The routes are currently being upgraded, improved, and made safer based on driver feedback.

The overall cost of the upgrades was $1.7 million. With $1 million in salt savings alone last winter, the upgrades should pay for themselves during the 2020-2021 snow season.


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