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South Fayette, county officials celebrate Sygan Road improvements

| Monday, June 19, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, with county councilman Patrick Catena behind him, speaks during a ceremony celebrating the completion of the Sygan Road Low-Volume Road Grant Project at the project site Monday, June 19, 2017. South Fayette was awarded a $212,606 grant from funding allocated to Allegheny County. The money was used to improve the stormwater system, road base, and stream crossing culvert of the road, which has led to enhancements at a nearby wetland conservation area and  the reduction of road flooding on Sygan Road.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, with county councilman Patrick Catena behind him, speaks during a ceremony celebrating the completion of the Sygan Road Low-Volume Road Grant Project at the project site Monday, June 19, 2017. South Fayette was awarded a $212,606 grant from funding allocated to Allegheny County. The money was used to improve the stormwater system, road base, and stream crossing culvert of the road, which has led to enhancements at a nearby wetland conservation area and the reduction of road flooding on Sygan Road.
Danielle Sheppard, agriculture conservationist at Allegheny County Conservation District, talks about how conditions at a wetland conservation area along Sygan Road have improved following the completion of a Low-Volume Road Grant Project on Monday, June 19, 2017. South Fayette was awarded a $212,606 grant from funding allocated to Allegheny County. The money was used to improve the stormwater system, road base, and stream crossing culvert of the road, which has led to enhancements at the wetland area as well as the reduction of road flooding on Sygan Road.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Danielle Sheppard, agriculture conservationist at Allegheny County Conservation District, talks about how conditions at a wetland conservation area along Sygan Road have improved following the completion of a Low-Volume Road Grant Project on Monday, June 19, 2017. South Fayette was awarded a $212,606 grant from funding allocated to Allegheny County. The money was used to improve the stormwater system, road base, and stream crossing culvert of the road, which has led to enhancements at the wetland area as well as the reduction of road flooding on Sygan Road.

Last week's storms didn't flood Sygan Road in South Fayette thanks to recent improvements to a stream-crossing culvert, leaders said.

South Fayette and Allegheny County officials celebrated these improvements in a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 19 at the culvert.

Don Newman, chairman of the board of directors of the Allegheny County Conservation District, credited the Sygan Road work with the board joining the state Dirt and Gravel Roads funding program in 2013. The Dirt and Gravel Low-volume Roads funding allows the district to aid municipal projects that affect roads and streams.

South Fayette's 2015 grant application for Sygan Road also concerned the nearby South Fayette Wetland Trail. The township received a $212,606 grant from the district in spring 2016. Work commenced on connecting the underground springs that summer.

“These springs, when building happens, don't get to the streams like they used to,” said Nick Nickolas, South Fayette public works superintendent.

Workers piped the springs into the vegetation area, which was dry and now is lush.

The district replaced the 4-foot-wide culvert with a 16-foot-4-inch-wide one and added guardrails. Although the stream itself isn't polluted, when it floods, contact with the pavement will contaminate it. There has been no flooding this year.

“It was great the Allegheny County Conservation District could step in and do this,” District 4 Allegheny County Councilman Pat Catena said. “Anytime you're dealing with stormwater and stormwater distribution, that's a high-priority issue.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald similarly heralded the district.

“They've really learned how to get more bang for our buck,” he said. “These low-volume projects affect people's lives in a big way.”

Danielle Sheppard, an agriculture conservationist with the conservation district, oversaw much of the project. She said the most challenging part of it was the weather.

“It was such a big project,” she said, noting how crews worked on it through the winter.

The road also was repaved, which was not included in the grant. Improving the stormwater system, road base and culvert was the largest project to date for the district in terms of low-volume roads. The district receives $350,000 to $375,000 annually for this program.

Christopher Maggio is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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