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McNeilly Avenue, split between Dormont and city, set for upgrade

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A motorist who hits a pothole on one side of McNeilly Avenue can curse Dormont, but if a crater on the other side is struck, Pittsburgh is responsible for the patching.

The three blocks of McNeilly between Pioneer Avenue and Midland Street run along Dormont's border with Brookline, a city neighborhood. The borough and city each own about half of the road, and after years of potholes and utility work left the short stretch a mess they are finalizing an agreement to repave McNeilly.

“It will be repaired in the spring, one way or another,” Dormont Manager Jeff Naftal said.

“I know Dormont tries to fill the potholes on their side, and Pittsburgh tries to fill the potholes on their side, but it's God-awful,” said Dormont resident Bob McLellan, 57, who went from regularly using McNeilly to avoiding it because of its condition. “I'm very happy they're going to do something about it.”

Pittsburgh likely will choose a contractor to resurface the road, and Dormont will pay its share of the cost, which the borough estimated at about $22,000, Naftal said.

The actual cost to Dormont will depend on the winning contractor's bid and whether the city and borough can agree how much of the road each owns.

Though both sides long have agreed the road needs work, getting two governing bodies to fund a project and put the road on their paving lists took time, Naftal said.

Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, whose district includes the neighborhoods bordering Dormont, said she requested the city's side of the road be repaved in 2012 and 2013, but utility work that required digging up parts of the road made it impractical.

Altogether, 35 municipalities share a border with Pittsburgh, though some are separated by rivers and don't have land borders, said Kathy Risko, executive director of the Congress of Neighboring Communities, an organization that promotes collaboration between the city and municipalities that share its border. Though stories once were told of snowplows and pothole crews that refused to cross borders, she said, intergovernmental cooperation and shared services are becoming more common.

“We've spent a lot of time creating a place where communities can get together and talk about these issues, which can be very complicated,” she said. She said her organization worked with various municipal solicitors to create a template for intergovernmental agreements on sharing or splitting services ranging from paving to trash pickup.

Matthew Santoni is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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