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PennDOT: We're ready for winter. Are you?

Written by Jon Schmitz on .

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PennDOT says it is ready for winter and wants drivers to be prepared as well. The department has 5,400 drivers and 2,250 trucks and has stockpiled 777,000 tons of salt (it used 450,000 tons last year).

“PennDOT’s primary goal during winter weather is keeping our nearly 40,000 miles of roadway passable, which means they won’t necessarily be free of ice and snow during storms,” Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said in a news release. “Getting through winter safely is a shared responsibility between us and our customers, so I encourage motorists to be sure they’re ready for whatever conditions we’ll face this winter.”

Interstates and expressways get the first attention during a storm. In heavy snow, secondary roads may be covered with several inches before crews get to them. PennDOT probably shouldn’t have to tell people to slow down and increase following distances in those conditions but the department tallied 176 crashes, five deaths and 113 injuries last winter caused by aggressive driving on snowy roads.

More from PennDOT:

Motorists should carry an emergency kit including items such as non-perishable food, water, first-aid supplies, warm clothes, a blanket and small snow shovel. However, motorists should tailor their kits to any specific need they or their families may have. Consider adding such items as baby supplies, extra medication, pet supplies, or even children’s games.

PennDOT has agreements with about 700 municipalities for them to clear state roads within their jurisdictions.

A smattering of road work news to pass along:

Lane closures are possible on the southbound side of the Portal Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh after 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Delays are possible for drivers crossing from the Fort Duquesne Bridge to the Fort Pitt Bridge as crews replace an overhead sign. No restrictions going the opposite way. Work wraps by 5 a.m. each day.

Drainage work will close the shoulder on inbound Route 28 in O’Hara, between the Fox Chapel on-ramp and the Highland Park Bridge, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today (Wednesday). PennDOT asks drivers to slow down there.

Inspection of the on- and off-ramps connecting Grand Avenue in Neville to northbound Interstate 79 and the Neville Island Bridge will begin Thursday, with short-term shoulder closures and possible traffic shifts from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays through mid-December.

Reconstruction of northbound Route 65 in Leetsdale will begin Friday near the Cross Street intersection. That will take traffic to a single lane from 7 a.m. Friday around the clock through late December.

We reported earlier in the week on detours and restrictions scheduled for the Parkway East, Route 28 and, in Washington County, Interstate 79. Check it out here.

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