Road Work

Road Work

Allegheny County’s Department of Public Works fielded fewer calls to repair the bane of nature’s fury, also known as the pothole, this year, according to a news article. As to how reliable the science of tracking complaints are (for instance, when a driver hits a pothole, do they know whether to call PennDot, the county, or the municipality and does the recipient of a wrongly-placed call tell the caller to redirect their ire to the proper place, and, if so, does that indeed happen?) but the article says that the County itself took 59 calls this winter, 54 in 2012, and over 100 the two previous years, including 2010 when the blizzard hit.

The County’s CAFR provides operating indicators and capital assets for Public Works’ functions (they are way in the back of the document) and that data shows that from 2002 to 2011 the County did not add a lot of infrastructure: it had the same amount of lane mileage (818), the same mileage of paved streets (395), the same number of bridges less than 8 feet in length (181), the same number of bridges between 8 and 20 feet in length (149), and added 1 bridge greater than 20 feet in length in 2006, bringing its inventory to 192. It has 9 fewer vehicles than it did in 2005 (130 now), and added 59 pieces of heavy equipment since 2005, bringing the total to 430.

The operating indicators show that in 2011 the Department spent 298k man hours on winter road maintenance (all activities) and purchased 19k tons of salt to melt snow. The high water mark (maybe the high snow mark is more apropos) was in 2010 when the man hours for winter road work topped 374k and nearly 27 tons of snow melting salt was purchased (based on the tonnage bought and the price paid by the County a ton averages about $50).