We took a moment to catch up with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership Clean Team as they prepare to switch gears to keep downtown clean during the winter weather.
square feet of alleys power washed in October
square feet of sidewalks power washed in October
vendors at the Peoples Gas Holiday Market
Downtown Pittsburgh has decked the halls for the holiday season! Over 90,000 people attended this year’s Light Up Night celebration and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership’s (PDP) Clean Team played a huge role in keeping things merry, clean, and bright.
We spoke with PDP General Manager and leader of Clean, Outreach, and Hospitality teams, James Wimberly, to learn more about how the Clean Team adjusts its efforts to cater to the cold weather.
What makes pressure washing such an important aspect of efforts in downtown Pittsburgh?
“There are some cleaning efforts and other projects that require more than just the typical manual efforts or basic sweeping. … From grease stains from food vendors, restaurant garbage, stains from spills on sidewalks, to biohazards on public thoroughfares, power washing is an important service for maintaining downtown streets.”
Why does the Clean Team press pause on pressure washing during the winter?
“The typical pressure washing season is between March and November. … Pressure washing when the temperature is too cold risks damaging equipment, freezing the surfaces being washed, and putting pedestrians at risk as they traverse those surfaces.”
What other methods does the Clean Team employ during the winter months?
“During the winter months, the Clean Team is still responsible for servicing trashcans, sweeping the streets and alleyways, leaf and debris clean up, and maintaining the two recently installed Pittsburgh Potty locations. We really do our best to address any issues that may arise throughout the Golden Triangle.”
How does your approach differ in the winter compared to other seasons?
“If the temperatures are frigid, then general cleaning can be maintained, but with the absence of pressure washing. If conditions include snow, we shift to winter protocols and focus on clearing and salting curb cuts, clearing pathways in all directions through Market Square, and closing Mellon Square. Regardless of the season, trash management remains the main part of our responsibilities.”
How do you prioritize which areas to clean during the winter season?
“If an accumulation of snow is involved, it is very important to clear the areas where most pedestrians move, and places that are heavily used by transit riders. Curb cuts are a focus, so people can navigate crosswalks safely and have access to PRT at the bus stops throughout downtown. Walking paths, such as Market Square, also need to be cleared and accessible in all directions to maintain a safe walkway for pedestrians.”
Do you use any special equipment or cleaning agents in the winter that are different from those used during other seasons?
“We do use a snow blower and brush, but our responsibilities and snow accumulation often require manual efforts to meet winter clearing obligations. Any cleaning agents are only used within acceptable temperature thresholds. We do also receive melting agents from the City of Pittsburgh.”
Are there any other details or efforts you’d like to mention?
“I appreciate the efforts of our entire Clean Team, and they do a phenomenal job each year in maintaining a proper presentation for downtown. Their efforts in the field during the winter are difficult, especially in extreme conditions, but the team always rises to the challenge each year.”